The Colorado River is drying up.

To say that this is not good would be an understatement.

While it’s depressing, it’s not new news. There were warnings right from the get-go that continued with every new tap on the resource. But of course nobody cares about science until it bites them in the ass. When this is gone and the Ogallala Aquifer dries up, there will likely be a food and water crisis that will bring down the country. Someone once predicted that future wars will be fought over access to water.

Maybe desalination could help somewhat, but it won’t help with the Hoover Dam.

If you want to make a billion bucks. Become a lawyer that specializes in water rights.

Maybe we will stop trying to live and grow crops in the desert.

Is this a case where the structure of the USA causes problems - different states fighting each other instead of working together?

Is it not the case that the USA has plenty of water, just not in the right places? The lower 48 get 767 mm of rainfall on average for a total rainfall of 6.2 trillion cubic metres of water. That’s a lot of water. And I’m sure Canada has a surplus of fresh water. So why not just pump it around? That’s not a trivial exercise, of course. (Understatement alert!) But I’m sure it’s all been worked out and costed in some dusty file in some government department.

I’m sure it has, but I believe a better policy is to stop farming in a fucking desert. It’s simple, direct and has the added advantage of being easy to implement.

It’ll set off a recession, though, as things get moved around.

Really, it’s our ongoing insistence that ‘this made a profit once, we should ensure it keeps doing so’ in many fields that brings us to these points. While losing that cropland won’t set off starvation across the USA it will have an economic impact and may potentially change the availability of vegetables during winter. Though most of the supply issues can be picked up elsewhere in the US.

Can industrial greenhousea be used for growing year round in more temperate climates?

There appear to be multiple causes of water decline in the Colorado River, but one of the facts about climate change is that it’s significantly changing precipitation patterns. As a very broad generalization, because warmer air holds more moisture and a warming environment tends to produce more energetic storms, in many areas a warming climate is going to produce a lot more rain with risk of flooding and stronger storms. But along with this are shifting patterns and greater extremes of both droughts and flooding, with some areas getting much less precipitation than normal. The other rule of thumb that goes along with the “more moisture” generalization is that wet areas will likely get wetter, dry areas will likely get drier. In many places in the world, water stresses from climate change are already a serious problem, and these are the places least able to afford to mitigate them.

It’s both. The states do not want to give up the rights to the water for their residents and agriculture, and it is also more than just “not a trivial exercise” to move all that water around.

Much of that water falls on the eastern side of the country, ending up in the either going out to sea by way of the mississippi or other rivers, or to the great lakes. The cost of building the infrastructure to move that much water around would be an uncomfortable number of trillions.

If we were just talking about the water needed for home consumption, it would still be a pretty big task, but possibly doable. Instead, we are looking at providing water not just for homes, but for industry, and of course, the biggest use, agriculture.

Also, Canada is not exactly a state or in any way subject to the US, so, whether or not they have extra water lying around (they don’t, not really), we would not have much of a right to it.

Well yes.

And your point is? The US can cope with spending trillions. What is going to be the cost of NOT spending those trillions?

True, but I’m sure they’d be delighted to sell it.

After Justin Bieber, Celine Dion and Molson Ice, I think they owe us one…

Funny you should mention that. Back in 1991, Walter Hickel (former Alaska governor and SecInterior under Nixon) suggested a water pipeline from Alaska to California. Alaska has more water than the rest of the country combined. He was laughed at, but it was a visionary idea.

Ummm, no we can’t really cope with spending trillions. Especially not on a single project like this.

The cost is is that we will have to grow our food in areas that are more amenable to growing food, and that people will either have to move out of the desert or pay more to live there.

Not that they actually have all that much to spare, but that is even more cost on top of having to build the infrastructure to move it.

You seem to be operating under two incorrect assumptions, The US has an unlimited budget, and Canada has (and will continue to have) enough water to spare to take up the shortfalls that we are seeing when we try to irrigate the desert.

Yes you can. By switching to UHC the USA would save $1T per year. That $1T could be spent on providing water.

Fair point, actually.

Though, should we ever manage to get UHC (which I have no faith or confidence will come about), I can still think of better uses for that money than subsidizing growing crops and living in the desert.

The OP should be in the past tense. It’s been years since the Colorado River ever reached the ocean. All of the water is gone before then. Yes, all of it.

Would have been true before 2014.

There was a big pulse let out in 2014 and then smaller, directed ones since then. There’s a new deal in place between the US and Mexico to continue this.

But not a new one. I recall a plan published back in the 70s about taking water from the McKenzie River in northern Canada and shipping it via the Columbia to California. And it’s virtually certain they’d have taken a lot more out of the Columbia than they put in. They’ve had their eye on Columbia River water for far longer than that.

This proposal was even more ambitious–diverting water from the Yukon, Liard and Peace River systems in the Arctic and creating a 500 mile long reservoir in the Rocky Mountain Trench. The Wikipedia article details the more expansive ideas with the plan.

North American Water and Power Alliance