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Overpopulation and Water in the West

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posted on Nov, 27 2004 @ 01:05 AM
I thought I would show a research paper I did (I'm not a very good writer).
There is some good info that most people don't know about however.
Well, here it is.

The Crisis of Overpopulation and Water in the West

As the U.S. population steadily increases, most of the increase occurs in the western states. The difference in population growth between central/eastern states and western states is dramatic. Since 1960, the average increase by decade for the states of Arizona, Colorado, and Nevada has been 43.09 percent, while the states of Iowa, New York, and North Dakota have averaged an increase of 2.17 percent per decade (Social Science). This western population has caused problems in traffic congestion, energy consumption, and environmental concerns, but the issue that has become more important to the west is the availability of water for people and businesses.

Fast population growth in the western states is in direct defiance of Mother Nature. Most of the land is semi-arid and not made for water-hungry humans. Arizona, for example, is a state that can definitely be considered “semi-arid.” Columnist Shaun McKinnon writes “In rural eastern Arizona, for example, rapid growth has strained water supplies, creating summertime shortages in communities like Pine and Strawberry. Flagstaff and Williams are searching for water sources to supplement the lakes and wells they now use” (2). One can assume that Arizonans will have to search further a field for new water sources, ultimately reaching the end of the road, unless innovations on a large scale are implemented. How ironic it is that the Grand Canyon, the state’s main attraction, was created from an abundance of water, yet some Arizonans are running on empty.

With 17 inches of annual precipitation, Colorado is also semi-arid (Bouvier and Stein 6). The state is not only overpopulated, but it has a misplacement of people when compared to the availability of water resources. The initial inhabitants of Colorado chose their home sites based partly on the rivers they saw flowing from the foothills and partly on the difficulty of traveling further through the Rockies. The thing they didn’t know was that 70 percent of Colorado’s water is on the western slope (Denver Water 1). Ironically, 70 percent of Colorado’s present population is located on the Front Range (Denver Water 1). From this comes the debate of if and how the water should be transported from the west slope to the east slope.

Currently, water is diverted from the western slope Colorado River basins to several Front Range cities (Denver Water 1-2). But, while Colorado’s population is expected to increase by a million people in twenty years (Campbell 3), water diversion most likely will not be a solution. With Colorado receiving a large portion of the estimated 300,000 new illegal aliens entering the country each year (Bouvier and Stein 6), the state’s focus might eventually shift towards slowing population growth instead of finding new water resources or implementing conservation policies.

Colorado certainly is not the only western state with a population explosion from immigrants. California and Nevada both have the same problem, but each has a different reason for the immigration. California has a huge illegal immigration problem, while Nevada (specifically Las Vegas) attracts people from overpopulated areas, mainly Los Angeles. The entertainment factor also attracts immigrants to Las Vegas. These factors have caused Nevada’s population to increase by more than 12 times it had in 1950 (Negative 1). Nevada’s population is expected to reach 3.5 million in 2018, close to double its current population (Negative 1).

Nevada’s water shortage problem is actually worse because most of the state is a mountainous, desert environment. The residents of Las Vegas certainly have not considered this fact. Las Vegas has increased its population by 83 percent between 1990 and 2000 (Soussan 1). The water usage in the area is actually higher than it should be due to tourists using hotel water. With 307 gallons consumed per day, the area has the highest per capita water use of any major city in the West (Soussan 1). Unfortunately, almost all of Las Vegas’ water comes from only one source: Lake Mead. The lake receives most of its water from the Colorado River, which originates from the western slope of Colorado (Colorado Atlas 28). Perhaps Las Vegas would not be the city it is today if the majority of Colorado’s population was on the other side of the Continental Divide.

Californians have a difficult issue with overpopulation: illegal immigration. But, they also have a huge advantage over land-locked states: the Pacific Ocean. According to the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services, “the state’s illegal population grew by 732,000 over the 1990s, reaching a total California illegal population of 2.2 million as of January 2000” (Bouvier, Schneider, and Hull 8). Bouvier claims that 98 percent of California’s 4,117,979 population growth in the 1990s is from foreign-born residents (Bouvier, Schneider, and Hull 7). This situation can be corrected, but because of the special, political, and economic factors, whether that happens or not is another issue.

California’s water situation is not as bleak as it appears. Not only is the state already utilizing the vast water source to the west (the Pacific Ocean), but plans for desalinating ocean water continue to be the hope for the most populous state in the country. The San Diego County Water Authority recently voted in favor of two multi-million dollar water projects, including a $240 million plant in Carlsbad that would eventually turn 50 to 80 million gallons of seawater into drinking water a day (Conaughton 1). These multi-million dollar figures show that residents will have to use extraordinary willingness to correct the water shortage: however, if the western states can effectively clean seawater and somehow slow the population growth, the water problem could possibly be solved indefinitely. Hopefully, there will not be a money shortage anytime soon.

Works Cited

Bouvier, Leon, Dick Schneider, and Diana Hull. “California’s Population Growth 1990-2002: Virtually All From Immigration.” Jun. 2003. Californians For Population Stabilization. 8 November 2004

Bouvier, Leon and Sharon McCloe Stein. “Colorado’s Population in 2050, A Road Paved With Good Intentions.” 2001. Negative Population Growth. 8 November 2004

Campbell, Paul. "Population Projections: States, 1995-2025." May 1997. U.S. Census Bureau. 8 November 2004

Colorado Atlas & Gazetteer. Map. Yarmouth, Maine: DeLorme, 2000.

Conaughton, Gig. "Water Authority Board OKs $550 Million Bond Sale." 27 Aug. 2004. North County Times. 8 November 2004

Denver Water. "Water Law." 1 November 2004

McKinnon, Shaun. "Shortage of Water in West Targeted." 3 May 2003. 1 November 2004

Negative Population Growth. "Nevada." 8 November 2004

Social Science Data Analysis Network. "United States Population Change." 4 November 2004

Soussan, Tania. "Vegas Owns Up to Water Woes." 15 Jun. 2003. Albuquerque Journal. 8 November 2004

[edit on 2004-11-27 by DClark]

posted on Nov, 27 2004 @ 12:48 PM
Thanks for sharing that!
In your research, did you come across anything that indicates that foolong with Mother Naure, ie having many golf course greens in the desert, endangers the ecology?
I just have to think that creating dams, diverting rivers and having green lawns will have consequences we may not like

posted on Nov, 27 2004 @ 06:39 PM
Due to the short time allowed for this paper I didn't come across a lot on ecology endangerment, but there was a recent ATS thread on the silt/dam relationship in Arizona. Link

I agree that the consequences are going to be huge. I think Las Vegas is going to have big problems in the future. Since Colorado is already having problems with overpopulation and water shortages, Las Vegas is going to end up fighting with Colorado over water in my opinion. Changes have to be made.

posted on Nov, 27 2004 @ 07:44 PM
I live in the Great Lakes area. I fear that some group will try to divert or steal these waters and really screw things up.
Thanks for filling me in by providing that link

posted on Nov, 27 2004 @ 10:52 PM
Water cirsis? Just check out:

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