A new U.S. government report on water in the American West in the 21st century forecasts that temperatures in the region will soar by 5 to 7 degrees F., major rivers such as the Rio Grande and Colorado could
see reductions in flow of up to 20 percent, and less snow will fall and will melt earlier. The report, released by the U.S. Department of the Interior, said that while the Pacific Northwest is likely to see an increase in precipitation in the 21st century, the southwestern U.S. will become even drier, seriously straining water supplies in a region whose population has been rising rapidly in recent decades. The report, presented by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, analyzed future water conditions in eight major western river basins, from the Columbia River in Oregon and Washington to the Rio Grande along the Mexican border. Overall, the report said, the region can expect a decline in the April 1st snowpack, which means that many western rivers are likely to experience significant reductions of flow in the summer. The report also said that the increasing use of water in drilling for natural gas in underground shale formations is likely to further strain the West’s water supplies.
U.S. Department of Interior