Rain is needed in the American west, especially in the southwestern states. Drought conditions have scorched the southwest for more than two decades, meaning a “megadrought”- a severe dry period lasting at least a couple of decades– is gripping the area. This is the worst drought the region has seen in over 1,000 years. Dry conditions not only affect the ability to keep a green lawn (see Goodbye to the Green Lawn?) but just about everything else, from drinking water and tourism to agriculture and the increase in the number of forest fires.
The shortage of rain is so severe, that the Colorado River- a water source for more than 40 million people- is drying up. The water levels in Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the country, have dropped to about 25% of capacity. This is the lowest level seen in the reservoir since 1937– a particularly telling statistic considering Hoover Dam, which creates Lake Mead, was dedicated before a crowd of 20,000 people by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on September 30, 1935.
As a quick aside, Hoover Dam was finished two years ahead of schedule… how often are public projects finished ahead of time nowadays?
The drought only intensifies the need for water throughout California, Nevada, and Arizona. As the flow of water slows from the Colorado River basin, municipalities and farmers have increasingly relied on groundwater to meet demand. Especially in the arid southwest, groundwater is not a limitless resource. Parts of the California Central Valley- an area that stretches 20,000 square miles– have run out of water.
On the agricultural front, farms use about 80% of the water in the drought-stricken area. Given the crop yield from this area feeds the entire country with huge yields from crops, such as winter fruits, vegetables, and nuts, the simple solution isn’t just to cut back on farm water usage. Worse yet, farmland and water rights controlled by foreign entities often grow crops to feed livestock in other parts of the world.
When domestic food production is at risk, policymakers should question the prudence of using scarce water supplies to feed other countries. A national investment in water efficiency technology and apparatus may be in order. I’ve included a story below on the dire southwestern water situation and some options to address it. Let me know what you think!
~ Brian Kasal- The Leadership Matrix
P.S.- Did you see my last Leadership Matrix post? Mortgage Boycotts are Spreading Across China as Delays Mount
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