Our western enterprise media fellow Zack Colman has published the first of a series of articles supported by the Center: "How the Western Water Wars May End," the the cover story of this week's Christian Science Monitor.
Of decreasing western water resources in an era of climate change, Colman writes,
The region’s water situation is calling into question the very ways in which people live: from how long a shower should take, to whether they should have a green lawn, to whether they should spend money to draw water from ever deeper depths to support their farms.
Colman's story points to an innovative water agreement among farmers, environmentalists, government and sovereign tribal nations as a hopeful sign for a increased cooperation among traditional rivals for western water supplies. Though awaiting final approval by the US Congress, the Yakima Basin Integrated Plan has been in place since 2012, aiming to secure the future viability of resources important to its many stakeholders: irrigation water for farmers; salmon populations sacred to the Yakama Nation; and natural streamflows vital to endangered and threatened species. The plan rests on a complex mix of water conservation, habitat restoration, and new water storage in the form of reservoirs.
During travels supported by his media fellowship, Colman spoke to farmers who had decided that conditions merited paying more for water to pay for infrastructure, ecologists witnessing salmon populations returning to newly cool and abundant streams, as well as consulting experts at Stanford like the climate scientist Noah Diffenbaugh.
"How the Western Water Wars May End" is the initial article in the CS Monitor's new "Inhabit" section on climate change and the environment. More articles on western water will be forthcoming from Colman's work with the Center.