Kathleene Parker: Water a concern | SteamboatToday.com

Kathleene Parker: Water a concern

Steamboat Springs — As a native Coloradan and a long-time water activist, I appreciated your recent article “Water rights making waves.” But I hope politicians will look beyond such obviously reactive approaches and be proactive. We cannot risk repeating the scenario of a New Orleans, long warned it was at risk from a failing levee system. The West faces a water crisis of catastrophic proportions, one which can not be solved by building storage and diversion; it requires addressing cause and fundamental change. — As a native Coloradan and a long-time water activist, I appreciated your recent article “Water rights making waves.” But I hope politicians will look beyond such obviously reactive approaches and be proactive. We cannot risk repeating the scenario of a New Orleans, long warned it was at risk from a failing levee system. The West faces a water crisis of catastrophic proportions, one which can not be solved by building storage and diversion; it requires addressing cause and fundamental change.

— As a native Coloradan and a long-time water activist, I appreciated your recent article “Water rights making waves.” But I hope politicians will look beyond such obviously reactive approaches and be proactive. We cannot risk repeating the scenario of a New Orleans, long warned it was at risk from a failing levee system. The West faces a water crisis of catastrophic proportions, one which can not be solved by building storage and diversion; it requires addressing cause and fundamental change.

Lake Powell, at the region’s far higher population than when the reservoir was first filled over a 19-year period, can likely never be refilled at today’s population. The Colorado River faces a 30 percent decrease in runoff due to global warming. The Rio Grande faces up to a 29 percent decrease in a river already often dry much of the year even as the region’s population explodes.

Shockingly, to 2050, half of all the growth on the planet will occur in just eight nations: India, Pakistan, Nigeria, the U.S., China, Bangladesh, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in that order. We grow faster than China, not due to our near-replacement-level birth rate, but as we accept more immigrants (legal and illegal) by a factor of three than we did when we were a vast frontier in the 1880s and 1890s.

The West, since World War II, has grown at Third World rates in ranges of 2 to 3 percent a year, population doubling times of 30 years or less. Growth has become our major industry. Growth itself serves as a taxpayer-funded subsidy to land developers, land speculators and Realtors. Real leadership will move to slow our nation’s growth (so far in lockstep with India’s growth last century) and to diversify the West’s economy into non-growth-related sectors.

Kathleene Parker

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