Wet Winter Offers the West No Relief from Water Insufficiency

In the West, small towns like those in northern Nevada, struggle to maintain a once thriving population as residents relocate to areas more inhabited by storefronts and convenience amenities. As metropolitan areas like Las Vegas grow in the southern part of the state, the surplus of available resources, like water, in the north become increasingly more appealing and sought after by the growing urban population. 

The new urban dwelling population has no intention of relocating; rather they desire to install a pipeline for transporting water from the north to the southern parts of the state to appease the high demands of the thriving desert oasis. While the idea doesn’t seem threatening on the surface, the reality, which the depletion of the resource would leave farmers and ranchers struggling to sustain their way of life, has conjured controversy and opposition. 

If the pipeline is approved, the project will only prove as a temporary fix to a burdening long-term conflict. Despite the surplus of precipitation in the recent winter months, both rural and urban areas are exhausting their water sources, shedding light on a much bigger issue facing the western population of the U.S.  As the availability of water sources continues to decline, the demand will be unrelenting, causing the region to reconsider traditional construction practice and discover more innovative ways to mitigate the lack of resources. 

A New Approach to Water Scarcity

While climate change has left many of the region’s water sources depleted and the demand of urban metropolis’ steadily climbs, residents have chosen to take an optimistic and proactive approach to innovate and overcome the challenges that have accompanied the long drought.

Cities in regions plagued by drought are promoting water conservation efforts by encouraging residents to adopt landscaping more indigenous to the area, placing restrictions on the use of landscaping that requires substantial amounts of water to maintain and enacting monetary incentives for complying. Water treatment facilities are developing new technology that enables to them to recycle rainwater and wastewater for reuse. Farmers are adapting to water shortages by opting for lower water use irrigation systems to sustain their farming practices. 

At the foundation of these efforts, the people of these communities are educating themselves and supporting the water conservation movement as a cumulative approach to mitigating the water scarcity issue. The population has come to understand that they must work as united communities striving to ensure that the necessary resource sustains the lives of all affected in the region. 

A Persistent Struggle

While there is hope for the area to renew its growth and thrive once more, there is a stigma that lies at the heart of the issue. Many residents of the surrounding rural areas feel defeated as if the well-being of their communities and businesses are not being prioritized, believing that the agenda of cities like Las Vegas is based primarily on the economic and financial gain, not for the benefit of the population as a whole. Residents feel that the pipeline project will only fuel this agenda while leaving surrounding communities with exhausted resources which ultimately affect their businesses and tourism – their livelihood. Residents believe that water scarcity will continue to cause turmoil and controversy in the area until widespread acceptance of water conservation is accepted and new guidelines are in place to accommodate the rate of urban development. 

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