The war among states over water has been raging since the establishment of boundaries. It is nothing new, although citizens in arid lands often wonder why water bills keep rising, not realizing they live in an area where water is not abundant.
Areas of Southern California, Las Vegas and the growing metropolis of Phoenix are fine examples of populations sustained under a false pretense of available water. Boomtowns across the Southwest have historically relied on outside water sources, and the golden goose is tiring.
A great deal of water for all of these areas is supplied via Colorado and precipitation that forms, falls and then discharges from the Rockies. Colorado is legally obligated to provide this water to downstream users, which largely fall west of the Continental Divide.
Colorado, and other states in similar positions, was not always happy to so freely give “its” water away, and perhaps rightly so. Arguments abound regarding fair use, and how it’s not the responsibility of Colorado to sustain communities that spring up in such dry environs.
The war initially settled by the Colorado River Compact in 1922, and included six beneficiary states (Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming), has been amended 11 times since its enactment to make concessions for growth, yet the thirst for water from the Rockies still rages.
Now, records show that annual demand of Colorado River water is surpassing supply, and there is no legislation in the works to slow or divert demand.
Coloradans are at a loss about how to fight the oncoming threat of diminished water supply, in large part caused by the needs of downstream users who they argue make no contributions to their welfare.
Even if legislation could cut off the flow, it is hard to say who is in the right about the use of freely flowing water that has its source in a state other than the one in which they live.
More Water Resources:
Your Online Guide To Water Pollution
A Teacher’s Guide to Water Related Lesson Plans and Materials
A Kid’s Guide To The Water Cycle
An Educational Guide About Drinking Water