Population, immigration, and the drying of the American Southwest

WASHINGTON, Nov. 29, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The looming water crisis in the American Southwest – and the role of immigration-driven population growth – is the topic of a paper published this month by the Center for Immigration Studies and authored by New Mexico journalist Kathleene Parker.

The paper, “Population, Immigration, and the Drying of the American Southwest,” online at http://cis.org/southwest-water-population-growth, explores the link between the possibility of the potentially catastrophic economic and environmental water crisis and the fact that the Southwest is the fastest-growing region of the world’s fourth-fastest-growing nation – a growth rate earlier cautioned against by various presidential commissions. It also looks at how that growth rate is driven by historically unprecedented immigration – legal and illegal – into the United States, the world’s third-most-populous nation after China and India. Immigration is responsible for more than half of the population growth in the Southwest this past decade, and nearly all of the growth in the largest southwest state, California.

Such high immigration has happened absent discussion or acknowledgement of its impacts on population or limited resources, such as water. Parker presents evidence that indicates there is insufficient water for the region’s current population, much less the larger future populations that will result if immigration continues at its present high rate.

Read more: http://www.sacbee.com/2010/11/29/3218296/population-immigration-and-the.html#ixzz16inTPvbZ


A good year for state water — so far

The agency that manages much of the state’s water supply will fill 25 percent of the amount requested by downstream agencies for 2011 — a big improvement over last-year’s lowest-ever allocation of five percent.

The figure, likely to be revised upward through the year ahead, represents the state Department of Water Resources‘ “initial allocation” to the water agencies it serves.

“We’re off to a good start for this year,” the department’s director, Mark Cowin, told reporters in a conference call Monday. “Precipitation stands at 165 percent of average, primarily because of an extremely wet October.”

There is reason for caution, he said.

“We are experiencing strong La Niña conditions in California,” he said. “This could mean drier conditions later in the year.”

Still, it looks like a good year on for the State Water Project, which stores and delivers water and is an important source of supply for much of the state.

Read more…

REGION: Inland leaders explore remedies for uncertain water supplies

Twenty-eight years ago, Northern California voters killed a bond issue that would have paid for a canal to carry water from the big rivers in the north to fast-growing Southern California.

The Peripheral Canal, as it was called, is still being debated, and now officials are talking instead about building tunnels to carry the water more than 40 miles underground at a cost that could top $14 billion. The tunnels would carry supplies under the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to the pumps that feed the California Aqueduct.

The Delta may be hundreds of miles from Inland water taps, but its aging levees, declining fish populations and water pumping limitations have Southern California water purveyors again looking for a big fix.

Read more…

Look to Alaska to solve our water problem

A few years ago while visiting Alaska an article in the Soldotna newspaper about water caught my eye. Soldotna is a city near the mouth of the Kenai River. The Alaskans had offered for a second time to provide the lower 48 with massive amounts of fresh water.

The suggested plan was to sink three giant pipes into the Pacific to carry billions upon billions of gallons of fresh water from the Kenai to Northern California.

The Kenai is a mighty river that drains much of the summer snow and glacial melt of central Alaska into the Cook Inlet where it becomes useless through salination. The pipes would carry the fresh water without pumping as the water inlet would be above sea level and the outlet would be slightly lower just above sea level. California, Arizona and Nevada in particular would have all the fresh water needed. Remove just the California straw from the Colorado and the river would become healthy in short order.

Washington could use some of the touted “stimulus” money to finance a project that could put thousands of Americans to work building the pipe and placing it on the ocean floor. The money would be repaid with interest by the ratepayers in California, Arizona, Nevada and every other state that would benefit by this abundance.

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Some ideas about water are all wet

The local environmental club keeps urging me to stop “wasting water” – to take shorter showers, for instance, and to water my lawn less often. But how is it possible to waste water when it’s constantly being recycled through evaporation and rain?

It’s true: Thanks to the hydrologic cycle, we drink and bathe in the same H2O that rained on the dinosaurs. And, theoretically at least, the Earth has more than enough for all of us: According to Brian Richter, co-director of the Nature Conservancy’s Global Freshwater Program, human activities – agriculture, manufacturing, bathing, drinking and so on – consume only about 10 percent of the planet’s available freshwater supply.

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Water Management: The Path to a Better Future

Last year, I read a Wall Street Journal report that water managers in 36 states expect shortages by the year 2013. Why? The reasons are complex, but in a nutshell, the supply can’t keep up with the demand.

The world’s population tripled in the 20th century, and according to the World Water Council, the use of renewable water resources has grown six fold in that timeframe. Within the next 50 years, the world’s population is expected to increase by another 40 to 50 percent. This population growth – coupled with industrialization and urbanization – will result in an increasing demand for water. But overall, little has been done to address this crucial issue. Consider the Clean Water Act of 1972. Although it was put into place to create an era of technological innovation in the United States, the promise is still largely unfulfilled. More progress has been made in Europe, with the EU Water Framework Directive, but there is still much to be done.

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Comment: The way to deal with “shortages” is with market pricing. That is, privatize water.

Water worries arise

A lack of water into the Inland Empire could dampen future land developments and job growth, industry experts said Thursday at an annual water conference.”Without an adequate water supply, we will struggle with bringing in new jobs, development, construction and investments into the community,” Otto Kroutil, Ontario Development Agency director, at the San Bernardino County Water Conference.

Although the city has an adequate supply of water, the tides may turn with another population boom, Kroutil said.

“All this has to do with the ability to grow,” he said.

Read more: http://www.sbsun.com/business/ci_15762767#ixzz0wXL3hv7z

California water crisis over?

A little over a year ago, farmers, farm workers and local politicians were marching arm-in-arm across the San Joaquin Valley begging for water for agriculture and jobs.

About the same time, politicians in Sacramento were behind closed doors making pork-and-bean deals to get an $11-billion bond issue on the November 2010 ballot.

Today the hardest hit farmers on the West Side of the San Joaquin Valley want to sell surplus water to Los Angeles and the water bond will very likely be postponed until 2012.

What happened?

It rained and snowed in California.

Read more…

Water demand could exceed supply by 2050

Even without climate change, much of California is at high risk of water demand exceeding supply by 2050, according to a report released this month.

The National Resources Defense Council commissioned environmental consulting firm Tetra Tech to perform an assessment of water supply and demand under future climate and growth scenarios. Much of the United States could face water shortages, but water sustainability is at extreme risk in the Great Plains and the southwest United States, according to the analysis.

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Study: 14 States At Severe Risk Of Water Shortages

Water shortage risks will hit a very large percentage of all U.S. counties by mid-century, according to a major new TetraTech study released today by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

The county-by-county analysis looks at how water supplies could be jeopardized in the more than 1,000 counties facing water sustainability problems. The analysis shows a 14-times increase in the number of the most severely threatened U.S counties. The extent of U.S. agriculture at risk was outlined during the news event.

Fourteen states — Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas — were identified as facing the greatest overall at water-related risks, including limitations on water availability as demand exceeds supply.

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Passing the Point of “Peak Water” Means Paying More for H2O

This post is part of a special National Geographic news series on global water issues.

By Tasha Eichenseher

We have passed the point of “peak water”–or the end of cheap, easy-to-access water–in several places around the globe, experts say.

Those places include the Great Plains in the southern and central U.S., California’s Central Valley, northern China, the Nile River Basin in northern Africa, the Jordan River Basin in the Middle East, India, and more.

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San Diego County Faces Second Straight Year of Water Shortages, Water Use Restrictions

Continued supply cuts prompt Water Authority Board to maintain allocations to local agencies

(Mission Times Courier, San Diego, CA) – Taking into account continued cutbacks to the region’s imported water supplies, the San Diego County Water Authority Board of Directors voted today to continue current limits on water deliveries to its 24 member retail agencies through June 2011. The Board also approved remaining in a Level 2 “Drought Alert” condition for a second straight year, which enables member agencies to keep water use restrictions and other mandatory conservation measures in place.

Water-Related Conflicts Set to Escalate

ScienceDaily (Apr. 30, 2010) — Population growth, urbanisation, increasing pollution, soil erosion and climate variations are all reflected in the management and adequacy of the world’s waters. The situation is particularly difficult in many developing countries, where there are growing concerns over escalating water crises and even outright water conflicts between countries and regions.

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Sacramento Among Highest Water-Using Cities

The Sacramento region boasts two rivers and faces the ever-present concerns about flooding, but it’s also one of the largest water users in the nation, even worse than the fast-growing desert communities of Las Vegas and Tucson, Ariz. A Forbes magazine report found that the four-county region is the eighth-thirstiest in the nation, with the average resident using about 250 gallons of water per day — much higher than the national average.

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America’s Thirstiest Cities

Forbes: California owns four slots in our ranking of the 10 cities with the biggest water problems. Can the Pacific provide an answer?

The list:

1: Los Angeles
2: San Diego
3: San Antonio
4. Honolulu
5. Bakersfield
6. Phoenix
7. Portland, OR
8. Sacramento
9. Las Vegas
10. Tucson

Read more… 

The planet is getting thirsty

Toronto Star: In North America, municipal water infrastructure that relies on pipelines built more than 50 years ago is crumbling and in need of expensive overhaul. Municipalities themselves are looking for better ways to keep harmful organism, such as E. coli, and pharmaceutical waste out of drinking water systems.

Water scarcity, meanwhile, is forcing Australia, the U.S. Southwest, parts of China and many other regions of the world to be more creative in where they get their water and how they use it.

Read more…

Cattle Network: The Growing Water Crisis

The current water crisis confronting California is a wake-up call for the nation. Unless we heed the urgent call for water conservation, California’s water strife may roll across the country, state by state.

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