Your assignment is to prepare and submit a paper on water crisis in the southwest region of the us. Many farmers in the Southwest region rely heavily on river Colorado for irrigation. This paper will explore the issue of the water shortage problem in the Southwest, what the future holds, and what can be done.
Water Scarcity and causes
Drought is the major cause of water shortage in the region. It has resulted in reduced low snowpack in the mountainous areas, temperatures have risen over 110 degrees increasing the rate of evaporation (Weaver par. 1). In addition, the Colorado water crisis has been enhanced by an increase in demand. Because of warmer temperatures in the region, millions of people have been moving into the region to enjoy it. In addition, they have built swimming pools and planted grass parks that require a lot of water.
Forests acts as water catchment areas, however, in the recent forest in the southwestern part of the United States have been burnt by wildfires (Fraser 3). In fact, the total area consumed by fire since the 1970s to the present is more than 10,000 acres. In addition, the costs incurred on fighting and suppressing wildfire is more than $3 billion a year. With this, it is evident that wildfires have been contributing factors to climate change in the region.
Water shortage problem
The region relies on two reservoirs that receive water from river Colorado: Lake Mead, which serves big cities such as Las Vegas and Los Angeles, and Lake Powell, which serves the upper Colorado basin. The biggest challenge is that now more than ever, the amount of water supplied by river Colorado to the reservoirs has reduced drastically. Furthermore, the volume of Lake Mead is expected to drop significantly due to the reduced inflow of water ( Weaver 3 ). With this, more than one million homesteads are likely to be affected negatively.
To bring all into perspective, Mead is the largest reservoir, not Justin the Midwest, but also across the country, and for the last fourteen years, it has lost nearly 20 cubic kilometers of water. The worrying thing is that the reservoir only holds close to 35 cubic kilometers of water.
Other findings indicate that from 2004 to 2013, about 65 cubic kilometers of water had been exhausted from groundwater supplies (Hudson 4-5). This, therefore, means that the underground water supplies of river Colorado have been reduced by more than half.