By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
7/25/2014 (11 months ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
According to a report published by the American space agency and the University of California, the water crisis that is punishing the southwestern United States is likely to worsen.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The report found that the prime source of water for the southwest and California, the Colorado River Basin, is being sucked dry.
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The Colorado River is the only major river in the southwestern U.S., with the basin supplying over 40 million residents and seven states with water. Water from the basin irrigates four million acres of farmland, and in California it is the key source of water for Los Angeles and San Diego.
This study is the first to look at the role of groundwater in the parched region and has been carried out through a severe drought that has on the region since 2000.
A series of measurements taken monthly, have shown that over nine years, the Colorado River Basin has lost nearly twice as much water as the country's largest reservoir, Lake Mead in Nevada.
"We don't know exactly how much groundwater we have left, so we don't when we're going to run out," said Stephanie Castle, a water resources specialist at the University of California, Irvine. "This is a lot of water to lose. We thought that the picture could be pretty bad, but this was shocking."
The senior water cycle scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, Jay Famiglietti, warned that these finding have long term implications over the entire region.
"The Colorado River Basin is the water lifeline of the western United States," he said. "With Lake Mead at its lowest level ever, we wanted to explore whether the basin, like most regions around the world, was relying on groundwater to make up for the limited surface-water supply."
"We found a surprisingly high and long-term reliance on groundwater to bridge the gap between supply and demand," he continued. "Combined with declining snowpack and population growth, this will likely threaten the long-term ability of the basin to meet its water allocation commitments to the Seven basin states and Mexico."
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