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One Planet: 40M People Rely On The Colorado River, Which Is Drying Up Fast

Lake Mead, the nation's largest reservoir, has been hit hard by warming temperatures and downstream demands.
Lake Mead, the nation's largest reservoir, has been hit hard by warming temperatures and downstream demands.

On this edition of Your Call’s One Planet Series, we're discussing the The Colorado River, one of the country's most important sources of fresh water. Forty million people in seven states, 29 federally recognized tribes, and northern Mexico depend on the Colorado River, but it's drying up fast. It could lose 50 percent of its flow by 2050 if temperatures continue to rise.

Seventy percent of the water goes to growing crops, the majority of which are nonessential like alfalfa and other grasses that feed cattle for meat production. Water usage data suggests that if Americans avoid meat one day each week they could save an amount of water equivalent to the entire flow of the Colorado each year, more than enough water to alleviate the region’s shortages, according to ProPublica.

Guest:

Abrahm Lustgarten, senior reporter investigating the climate crisis for ProPublica and the New York Times Magazine

Web Resources:

ProPublica: 40 Million People Rely on the Colorado River. It’s Drying Up Fast.

San Jose Mercury: The shocking numbers behind the Lake Mead drought crisis

Malihe Razazan is the senior producer of KALW's daily call-in program, Your Call.