U.S. Water News Online
SAN DIEGO -- Political and legal conflicts over the water
supply are highly likely in seven of the West's biggest cities by
2025, a federal study found.
The Interior Department identified Las Vegas; Reno, Nev.;
Albuquerque, N.M.; Denver; Houston; Salt Lake City; and Flagstaff,
Ariz., as cities where conflict is most likely over the next two
decades. Two major waterways, the Rio Grande and the Colorado River,
also were named ``highly likely'' sources of conflict.
``It may simply be a situation where people want to water their
lawns or irrigate their fields and there simply is not enough water
available,'' Interior Secretary Gale Norton said.
A department initiative would focus money and technology to
develop ways to conserve water, improve structures such as dams and
reservoirs and stretch water resources to last in those critical
The department said a lesser, but still ``substantial''
possibility of water wars exists in other Western cities, including
Los Angeles, Sacramento, Calif., San Diego, Phoenix and San Antonio.
A third level of cities had a ``moderate'' chance of future conflict,
including Seattle; Dallas; Casper, Wyo.; Boise, Idaho and Salem, Ore.
The study was based on population trends, rainfall records, water
capacity and storage and habitats of endangered species, said
Assistant Interior Secretary Bennett Raley.
Overtapped water supplies could in the worst-case scenario spark a
repeat of 2001 turmoil over the Klamath River, Norton said.
Armed federal officers were called in after farmers along the
Oregon waterway pried open irrigation gates in anger when the
government shut off their water to help endangered fish.
Environmentalists and tribal leaders say Norton's subsequent decision
to divert water to 1,400 farms killed 33,000 salmon in the river last
The department study said the basin had a ``substantial''
possibility for sparking conflict again by 2025.
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