When your neighbors are in trouble, chances are you’re in trouble too. Look around southwest and mountain west America. Everywhere you’ll find major cities from Los Angeles to Denver, and Las Vegas to Phoenix worried sick about their water supply – as well they should be.The article continues, highlighting the danger to New Mexico if, as a holder of junior water rights to the Colorado, demand from California, Arizona and Nevada continues to increase. But that danger isn't limited to New Mexico, it's shared with, Colorado, Utah and Wyoming. Four U.S. states that could quite literally not have enough water to meet demand in the foreseeable future. Add to that the continued issues of groundwater depletion and contamination in 3 of the 4 states due to natural gas extraction, and the continued push from energy companies to begin exploiting oil shale (another water intensive process) in Colorado and Utah and you've got a recipe for disaster for millions of residents.
If the Colorado river continues to dry up and western drought becomes a perpetual hazard as current predictions have it, Las Vegas, Nevada will be facing a Katrina-like catastrophe, only this time it won’t be about flooding, but about running dry. Some 90 percent of Las Vegas’s water comes from the diminishing Colorado River.
Phoenix, Tucson, Denver and Los Angeles are in different boats, but their ponds are shrinking too.
And New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming — the “upper basin” states in the Colorado Compact of 1922 — have “junior” water rights to California, Arizona, and Nevada, the states that comprise the “lower basin.” And that means in a crisis, upper basin states won’t get their water until lower basin states have their’s.
We need to get smarter, faster.