“Killing the Colorado” by ProPublica

“The Colorado River — the most important water source for 40 million people in the West — is draining. For a century, seven states engineered ways to wring ever more water from the river, defying all natural limitations. But now, the very water laws and policies that shaped progress are rendering the West more vulnerable to drought and less fit to adapt to climate change. Discover how the nation helped turn the Colorado River into an artificial system by engineering water projects that now exacerbate instead of solve the problem.”

Met Intake, Parker Dam, in 1971.
Met Intake, Parker Dam, in 1971.

ProPublica’s incredible 5-part story on the Colorado River and the water crisis is now complete, and it paints a portrait of good intentions gone bad, the same intentions that created the southwestern United States and allowed it to become home to a fifth of the country’s population.

The piece includes a number of amazing facts that you may not have heard before, like the fact that there is (and always was) more water allocated on paper from the beginning than the river can deliver in reality. Shortage was baked into the formula.

The Parker Strip is home to two of the biggest water distribution systems in the world, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and the Central Arizona Project, both of which pull water north of Parker in order to supply cities of millions with fresh water, enabling them to grow. But we’ve figured out that this is an unsustainable idea, especially in the record drought. Hence the current crisis. What is the solution?

The feature in ProPublica is a shining example of what journalism should be. Parker Live urges you to read some (or all) of it HERE.

The dream of Met.

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