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In the space of a lifetime, critical issues about water use, and the availability of fresh water will confront the world. Food production, municipalities, industry, and energy will all compete for a dwindling natural resource, Water.
Excerpts from Southwest Hydrology September/October 2008, with some Commentary!
Early in U.S. history, public policy was fashioned to encourage settlement of the West. Laws such as the Homestead Act of 1862 and the Desert Lands Act of 1877 were framed to transfer government land to settlers. In 1902 the Reclamation Act provided funding for construction and maintenance of western irrigation projects. In its first annual report (1903), Reclamation had this to say” so that the remaining public lands will furnish the greatest possible number of homes, is an object worthy of the sustained effort of enlightened and patriotic citizens”. The public works that followed included such things as Hoover Dam, Shasta Dam, Newlands project, Yuma Project, Klamath project, Hetchy Aqueduct, and many more. With the 1902 Reclamation act the face of the West was changed forever. It must be pointed out and understood, these efforts and projects were directed at irrigation needs, based on a population that farmed for a living. Nothing like the urban shifts projected today!
Then came the drought—at a magnitude that had no probability of occurring, according to U.S. Bureau of Reclamation models based on a century of historical data. Sorry science guys, in the big picture, a century of data, barely counts as a data base.
In the blink of an eye, half a decades work to manage the Colorado River and meet the supply requirement and commitments has faded, as have the water levels in the Colorado River’s two prime reservoirs. Lake Mead and Lake Powell. Today science is telling to expect less in the future.