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Immigration-driven population growth is impacting America’s waters.

author Published by Henry Barbaro

March 22nd is World Water Day — an annual United Nations Observance that raises awareness on water and its protection, and provides the opportunity to learn more about water issues, take action, and educate others about water stewardship, and threats.  

Now more than ever, America is facing a variety of critical water shortages and impairments, such as the dropping reservoir levels (Lakes Mead and Powell) fed by the diminishing Colorado River, as well as the falling groundwater depths besetting California’s Central Valley Aquifer System, and the Ogallala Aquifer which stretches from South Dakota to Texas.  All told, more than 50 million Americans directly rely on these stricken and dwindling water bodies.

Quick Facts:

  • Roughly 40 percent of wells have hit all-time lows since 2010.
  • The seven states that signed the Colorado River Compact in 1922 had a combined population of 2.8 million in 1900. Their combined populations today exceed 62 million.
  • Without changes to immigration policy, arid regions throughout the West will have millions more people, fewer farms, more expensive water, devastated riverine ecosystems, and an increasingly parched landscape. See our Arizona and Colorado Sprawl studies.

Many rivers are threatened and degraded as our expanding populations draw on them for irrigation and drinking water, and use them for waste disposal of industrial process waters, farmland runoff, sewage, and urban storm-water.  Some notable examples of rivers under threat include the Mississippi River, and the Mobile River (AL), Tar Creek (OK), the Los Angeles River, and the Lower Kern River (CA) which suffer from pollution, dams, and/or overuse.  In addition to contamination, many water bodies throughout our country are becoming less resilient to droughts and flooding events.  Immigration-driven population growth exacerbates all of these problems.

Despite the Clean Water Act, many of America’s rivers are suffering, with no relief in sight.  The Census Bureau projects America’s population will grow by another 75 million in the next 40 years, with roughly 90% of that caused by immigration.  It’s significant that this projection was made before the immigration surge at the southern border, where illegal immigration has become more than twice as high as legal.

Contact Congress.  Tell them that you want to pass H.R. 2 and slow down America’s immigration-driven population growth.

Explore more at Conservation Challenges, Our Studies, and Sustainability Initiative.

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