From Mother Jones (Nathalie Baptiste):
A huge swath of the US is facing massive droughts. It’s only going to get worse.
While it’s unlikely that the Southwest United States is headed for a full-scale disaster like in Cape Town, South Africa, where residents have severely restricted water usage after three years of drought. But thanks to climate-changed linked droughts in the Southwest, water will become a precious commodity in this part of the US. “There’s a general sense that there will be less water in the future,” says Michael Cohen, a senior research associate at the Pacific Institute, a global water think tank.
Within the next several decades, states in the Southwest will receive considerably less rain than they do now. The region is naturally dry, but over the last 100 years developers have turned sprawling deserts into communities with lush green grass and green golf courses. Historically, droughts aren’t unusual in this part of the US, but climate change is set to make them worse as less rains fall. Reservoirs will be dry, the agriculture sector will be forced to cut back on water usage, and individuals will be required to adopt conservation measures which can range from getting rid of lush green lawns to shorter showers.
The five states currently facing droughts, plus Wyoming and Nevada, depend heavily on the Colorado River Basin, which includes the two largest man-made reservoirs in the United States, Lake Mead and Lake Powell, for water…
According to NASA, rainfall may decline by 20 to 25 percent over California, Nevada, and Arizona by 2100. Anticipating drier times, California and Arizona are currently in talks over a drought contingency plan to prevent Lake Mead from losing so much water that it must declare a shortage, which would require states in the river basin to deliver less water to consumers…
“The fear of drought and climate change in the West is the long-term lifestyle changes that are required to cope with more people and less water,” says John Fleck, a water resources professor at the University of New Mexico. “All these big cities like Los Angeles, Phoenix, and Albuquerque are going to have to continue using less water and conserve more and more.”