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Published:July 27th, 2014 14:14 EST
Is Western United States Running Out of Water Supplied by the Colorado River Basin?

Is Western United States Running Out of Water Supplied by the Colorado River Basin?

By Ron G Anselm

"Water is the lifeblood of all living creatures here and far. Without it, all living creatures cannot survive or be able to inhibit the daily means of being a living creature and the survival instinct that is dwelling within in us turns to nothing more than a meaningless thought that has the value of nothing more than a river basin that is missing the very reason it exists as a river basin; water. " (Anselm, R.)

Yes, I know; I kinda went on and on about water in my thesis statement but if you really think hard about the meaning of my thesis statement it makes perfect sense, at least to me it does. Water basically makes the world go round and round. Just look at the geology make-up of our planet. It is made-up of just about all water and our oceans will more than likely continue to be flooded and filled with more of the liquid gold known has H20, water. With the onset of global warming and the once mighty and fear polar caps that were like frozen mountains are now being reduced to nothing more than a pile of ice as they melt with the increasing temperatures that one day could turn each side of Antarctica into a warm vacation spot for future tourists and vacationer`s.

NASA once again with their up to date technology recently discovered that the Colorado River Basin lost nearly 53 million acre feet of freshwater and that this major issue has spanned over the past nine years. This data also revealed that the statistics is almost double the volume of the nation`s largest reservoir which is Nevada`s Lake Mead.

So, with the major loss of water the first thought that comes to everyone`s mind is what exactly does this mean? Stephanie Castle who is a water resource specialist at the University of California, Irvine elaborated on this probing question by saying, "We don`t know exactly how much groundwater we have left, so we don`t know when we`re going to run out. This is a lot of water to lose. We thought that the picture could be pretty bad, but this was shocking."(Castle, S.)

Scientists have also discovered that about seventy-five percent of the water loss in the Colorado basin since 2004 has come from underground resources and with this information may become an issue by posing a greater threat to the water supply of the western United States than previously thought.

Also, this study is the first to quantify the amount that groundwater contributes to the water needs of western states. According to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the federal water management agency, the basin has been suffering from prolonged, severe drought since 2000 and has experienced the driest 14-year period in the last hundred years. (

Droughts and water conservation is nothing new for any of the western states. When I was growing-up in Southern California I went through many water conservation times when you could only water you lawn for a half hour in the evenings and those long showers where you sing ten choruses of your favorite Heavy Metal song became temporarily suspended, (not that I ever sang in the shower as a kid) but did live and die for Heavy Metal music, just a California thing.

The Colorado River basin supplies water to about 40-million people in seven western states. Also, it supplies water to other cities as-well just outside some of those western states, so it is a major resource of the liquid life-blood that quenches the thirst of many people.

Jay Famiglietti, who is the senior water cycle scientist at JPL on leave from UC Irvine, where he is an Earth system science professor commented on this by saying, There`s only one way to put together a very large-area study like this, and that is with  satellites.."There`s just not enough information available from well data to put together a consistent, basin-wide picture."(Famiglietti, J.)

Jay Famiglietti also stated that GRACE is like having a giant scale in the sky. Within yan given region, the change in mass due to rising or falling water reserves influences the strength of the local gravitational attraction. By periodically measuring gravity regionally, GRACE reveals how much a region`s water storage changes over time. (

So, the NASA Grace mission is able monitor the environmental changes of not only global warming but any global environmental change pertaining to water. In this case it is a good thing that big brother (NASA) is monitoring and watching the changes in the level of water in the Colorado River basin but the real question is, what can be done about the big issue of the changing levels of water that supply Western United States?

And has Jay Famiglietti once again put it, "The Colorado River Basin is the water lifeline of the western United States. With Lake Mead at its lowest level ever, we wanted to explore whether the basin, like most other 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." (Famiglietti, J.)

And with any concept of Materials Management, in this case scientific Materials Management, this concept is exactly like managing materials in a production and manufacturing environment. Has your customer`s orders increase or decrease, your demand for ordering parts to fulfill those order, so your supply and demand goes up and down over a period of time. In this case, the demand is water and the demand will increase or decrease over time has more and more people relocate to those western states that are being affected by this water shortage so the usage of water will increase or decrease. In this case, as in any materials management in a production and manufacturing environment, will you be able to get the materials in to fulfill your Build of Materials to fulfill those outstanding customer orders in queue, so will scientist be able to figure out a way to replenish the water it will take over time to fulfill the demand of the usage of water before it runs out?. This is a big challenge that only NASA and the minds of those scientist can tackle.

This issue is also going to turn out to have a ripple effect on the Colorado River basin by affecting the stream flow of water in the Colorado River. Jay Famiglietti summed this up by saying, "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 to Mexico." (Famiglietti, J.)

If you live in the Western part of this country, maybe it`s a good idea to start stocking-up on water from your local Wal-Mart. You never know when the day may come when you come home after a long and sweaty and dirty day at work and all you can think about on the way home is that nice, hot shower that is going to make you smell fresh again and not like the way you currently smell, like a rotten tomato. You get home, rush in your front door, take off you dirty work clotes, hop in the shower and turn on the water and "..bloop, oh, oh "no water comes out because the Colorado River basin that is your vendor to supply your water just ran bone dry.


Satellite Study Reveals Parched U.S. West Using Up Underground Water

 ( Retrieved July 24, 2014.

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