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Colorado River Report says Los Angeles could face water shortages over the next 50 years

Aerial views of the Colorado River, Imperial Valley.
Aerial views of the Colorado River, Imperial Valley.
Brent Stirton/Getty Images

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In what he said was “a call to action,” the US Interior Secretary Ken Salazar yesterday issued the unhappy results of a study looking at water sustainability in the Western United States. The study, which took three years to complete, looked at the Colorado River’s ability to meet the future water needs of city-dwellers, Native Americans, businesses, ranchers and farmers in seven Western states.

What it found was a water flow reduced by 12 years of drought, from 15 million acre-feet per year, to just 12. The study also projects that by 2060 the river flow could fall by 3.2 million, to 8 million acre-feet short of regional needs, which would affect an estimated 40 million people. Some advocacy groups, however, are criticizing the report, saying the government inflated projections of the amount of water in the river and the number of people in the region.

Water administrators and state officials have proposed some creative solutions, from piping water from the nation's heartland to towing Arctic icebergs south to water Denver, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Phoenix, but Secretary Salazar has dismissed most of these as either politically or technically impractical. Larry hears from all sides and takes your suggestions on Southern California’s water policy.


Anne Castle, Assistant Interior Secretary for the Department of the Interior, water and science

Molly Peterson, KPCC Environmental Reporter