The drought in the Western USA has been accelerating for 20 years and the water supplied by the Colorado River to two major reservoirs has decreased to near record low levels. Lake Mead is at 28 percent capacity and Lake Powell is at 27 percent capacity.
About 40 million people in Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming, Arizona, California and Nevada rely on this water supply. Next year significant cuts will have to be made to the water supplied to these states.
Climate change has worsened drought conditions in the Western US average temperatures have increased 2 to 3 degrees Fahrenheit in recent years. In Phoenix, the hottest city in the US, the average summer temperature has increased 3.8 degrees since 1970. Phoenix is trying to lessen the heat impact by planting tree canopies, expanding the light-rail system and painting roadways white.
A combination of actions is necessary to lessen the impact of the drought, including a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, increased use of renewable energy sources and conservation and rationing of water. Studies should be conducted to evaluate the feasibility of transporting water from the oceans and major rivers by pipeline and constructing more desalination plants.