Western U.S. Confronts 'Peak Water'

A patchwork of isolated water crises in communities throughout the western United States adds up to one intricately woven story: 'we’ve reached peak water in the American west.'

"It is no surprise, of course, that the western United States is dry," writes Peter Gleick. "The entire history of the West can be told (and has been, in great books like Cadillac Desert [Reisner] and Rivers of Empire [Worster] and The Great Thirst [Hundley]) in large part through the story of the hydrology of the West, the role of the federal and state governments in developing water infrastructure, the evidence of droughts and floods on the land, and the politics of water allocations and use."

"But the story of water in the West is also being told, every day, in the growing crisis facing communities, watersheds, ecosystems, and economies. This isn’t a crisis of for tomorrow. It is a crisis today. What is, perhaps, a surprise, is that it has taken this long for the entire crazy quilt of western water management and use to finally unravel. But it is now unraveling."

Gleick makes note of the many crises that indicate a drying West and outlines some of the steps we'll have to take to confront the problem.

Full Story: Peak Water in the American West


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