Lauren Sommer of KQED reports that 19 years of drought and overuse of the Colorado river has led to the federal government planning to get involved in a water management deal that has traditionally been handled by the states:
"Despite a last-minute frenzy of deal-making, the federal government announced that it will begin taking 'protective actions' on the Colorado River, where a long-running drought has put the water supply for 40 million people at risk.
"The seven states that use the river had been trying to broker their own solution, a collective water-sharing deal, with a Jan. 31 deadline to get it done. While most states had agreed, California and Arizona couldn’t finalize the agreement in time."
Getting involved in the allocation of water "marks a major shift" for the federal government.
Then again, the federal government has played a significant role in increasing the demand on the Colorado river that is now threatening a looming shortage.
The Department of Interior under the Obama administration warned that the Colorado river would not be able to sustain the seven states dependent on it by mid century. The primary reason? Projected population growth, most of which is a result of federal policy.
Congressional immigration policy is responsible for 55 percent (72 million) of U.S. population growth between 1965-2015, and is projected to account for 95 percent (75 million) of population growth between now and 2060.
If there is a crisis for Lake Mead and the Colorado river that requires federal intervention, it is at least a crisis partly of the federal government's own making.
JEREMY BECK is the Director of the Media Standards Project for NumbersUSA
Updated: Wed, Mar 13th 2019 @ 10:55am EDT