Water Crisis in the West

Do shortages imperil the region's growth?


Across the West, water is becoming an endangered resource as a warming climate adds new stress to an already strained supply. Drought is devastating Texas; flows of the Colorado River — vital to a seven-state region — have become more uncertain; and important underground aquifers are being depleted in several states. As concern about shortages grows, conflicts among housing developers, farmers and environmentalists are increasing. Agriculture is in the spotlight because it accounts for about 80 percent of Western water consumption. Farmers say they're far more careful about conservation than many suburban residents, with their swimming pools and thirsty lawns. Water conflicts go back a long way in the nation's most arid region. But a growing number of Western water-policy experts say cooperation, compromise and ...

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