Story at a glance:
- The Western drought is arguably the worst it’s been in the last 1,200 years.
- Utah’s governor is asking his constituents to pray for rain as a wildfire burns on Bennion Creek.
As the population in the Western United States continues to grow, 72 percent of these states are experiencing a considerably “severe” drought, including 26 percent experiencing exceptional drought, NBC News reported — the worst drought in the region in 1,200 years.
As Changing America previously reported, the drought could affect about 2 million California residents, as well as those who depend on the Colorado River and Lake Mead, both of which serve Nevada and Arizona, specifically Las Vegas and Phoenix.
Now Utah is also being considered a casualty of the drought, as Gov. Spencer Cox (R-Ut.) asked his constituents to pray for water during a wildfire on Bennion Creek. But rain does not appear to be in the forecast for some time this summer.
This year is set to be the worst drought in the West since 1977, Ernest Conant, director of the Mid-Pacific Region of the Bureau of Reclamation, told NBC News. Before that, the second driest year took place 1,200 years ago.
Las Vegas has already been preparing for a drought of this magnitude for the past 20 years, but the effort has not been good enough.
“It isn’t sneaking up on us,” John Entsminger, the general manager of the Southern Nevada Water Authority, said. “Since 2002, our population has increased close to 50 percent, about 750,000 people in the last 19 years or so, and over that same time our aggregated depletions from the Colorado River have gone down 23 percent.”
In Entsminger’s assessment, “Is this a drought, or is it just the way the hydrology of the Colorado River is going to be?”
The question is coming up as some wonder if there is a livable future for those on the West Coast.
The Las Vegas metropolitan area is home to 2.2 million people, and more than 4 inches of rain is required to be a good year, NBC News reported.
Lake Mead is sources about 90 percent source of Las Vegas’s water from the reservoir on the Colorado River.
The heat wave also presents a challenge for people dependent on the electrical grid, as some utilities are expected to blackout this summer. It also could have an effect on food — fewer crops means less produce like vegetables and meat.
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