Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Future Water Wars in USA

According to this AP article (mirrored below), several Western US cities could experience "serious water conflict" in the next twenty five years. Sounds like an interesting idea for some speculative wargames to me.

Study: Water battle likely here
By Seth Hettena The Associated Press
SAN DIEGO - Albuquerque has been fingered by an Interior Department study released today as one of the six Western cities most likely to experience serious water conflict within the next two decades.
The other five communities where conflict is "highly likely" by 2025 are Las Vegas and Carson City, Nev., Denver, Houston and Salt Lake City.
"In some areas of the West, existing water supplies are, or will be, inadequate to meet the demands for water for people, cities, farms and the environment even under normal supply conditions," the department said.
Explosive growth across the West is straining water resources that also support billion-dollar farm economies and are crucial to maintaining the survival of a host of endangered species.
Court action within the past year in the central Rio Grande has sent farmers, municipalities and environmentalists scrambling for positions that will allow agriculture, drinking water consumers and the endangered Rio Grande silvery minnow all to get adequate water supplies in the midst of a serious drought. The city of Albuquerque plans to switch from groundwater aquifers to river water for its supply by 2006, using in part water diverted from the disputed Colorado River.
On the department's map, the Rio Grande and the Colorado River were marked in red as highly likely sources of future conflict.
There was a "substantial" possibility of water wars in other Western cities, including Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Diego, Phoenix and San Antonio among others, according to the department's map.
A third level of cities had a "moderate" chance of future conflict, including Seattle, Dallas, Casper, Wyo., Boise, Idaho, and Salem, Ore.
Interior Secretary Gale Norton ordered her staff to develop the map of potential future hot spots in the hopes of averting a repeat of the crisis in Oregon's Klamath Basin in 2001. Armed federal officers were called in to protect supplies from farmers angry over the Interior Department's decision to cut off their water to protect endangered salmon. The Klamath River had a "substantial" possibility for sparking conflict again by 2025, according to the Interior Department.
Another water war erupted this year in California, after the state failed to meet a Dec. 31 deadline to sign a deal aimed at reducing the its historic overdependence on the Colorado River.
In response, Norton reduced the amount of water California can draw from the Colorado River this year by 600,000 acre-feet, enough water for 1.2 million people.
"Crisis management is not an effective solution for addressing long-term systematic water supply problems," Norton said in a statement.
She was expected to answer questions about the program in a news conference at 1 p.m. MDT today.
As part of her program, dubbed Water 2025, Norton wants to focus federal dollars and technology in key Western watersheds to predict, prevent and alleviate water supply conflicts.
President Bush's budget calls for an initial investment of $11 million in such efforts.
The secretary said her initiative could help stretch existing supplies through maintaining and modernizing her department's network of dams, reservoirs, pumping stations and pipelines.
Investments in research and development could help provide more affordable ways to boost water supplies through desalination.
"Water 2025 provides a basis for public discussion of the realities that face the West, so that decisions can be made at the appropriate level in advance of water supply crises," Norton said.

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