Controversial Water Rights Debate in the Face of Drought and Agriculture Expansion

Controversial Water Rights Debate in the Face of Drought and Agriculture Expansion

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) collaborates with local, state, and federal agencies to conduct water surveys every five years. However, the most recent data available is from 2015, which breaks down the eight categories of H2O usage in America, including public supply, domestic, irrigation, thermoelectric power, self-supplied industrial, mining, livestock, and aquaculture.

Currently, the United States faces two major yet opposing H2O issues. The West and Southwest are experiencing a historic drought while rising sea levels threaten coastal regions. Two major studies released in February 2022 predicted that sea levels will rise by at least one foot by 2050, regardless of any future efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. While the drought is showing signs of easing, it has still resulted in significant overhauls in flood protection and water rights in many areas of the country.

Water Issues in the United States: Droughts, Rising Sea Levels, and More

In recent years, the debate for rainwater rights has become more contentious due to drought and new agricultural endeavors, such as recreational marijuana, dictating more and more of the H2O supply. However, there is a positive development as Native American Tribes will receive $1.7 billion in federal funds as part of the Indian Water Rights Settlement Completion Fund.

An innovative solution to water supply and clean energy is being implemented in California. The first “solar canal” of its kind will bring water to 35 million Californians while being covered in solar panels, reducing evaporation as the aqua travels. Meanwhile, Wall Street investors are buying up water rights in Colorado, which has raised concerns about the privatization of water.

The Flint water crisis still casts a shadow over America’s perception of clean drinking water, and recent events, such as the discovery of chemical contaminants in rainwater in New Jersey, have not helped. The water crisis in Jackson, Mississippi, and the train derailment in Ohio have sparked urgent concerns from citizens about the presence of forever chemicals in our aqua systems. These events highlight the need for continued efforts to improve H2O safety and infrastructure in the United States.