Water Scarcity: How Climate Change Helps Crisis in the Western United States | US News

June 29, 2021
Water Scarcity: How Climate Change Helps Crisis in the Western United States | US News

Except for short missions in the army, Paul Crosford has spent his life farming in the South. Oregon.. First, when I was a boy, I chased my dad in a hayfield and now I grow alfalfa with my wife and two children on my farm.

“I didn’t exchange farming days with my wife and children for anything. It’s a wonderful life,” Crawford said. “If you don’t understand anything about this water problem, it may end.”

The western United States is dry as the region faces Unprecedented drought. Few places are as devastated as the Klamath River basin, where Crawford’s farms are located. The basin that straddles the California-Oregon border spans 12,000 square miles from farmland supplied by Upper Klamath Lake to the tribal communities around the Klamath River.

Water has long been a source of conflict in the basin, afflicting farmers against other resource-dependent people, including sacred fish in the local Native American tribes. Maintaining a balance between these competing interests is usually a difficult feat.Climate change is now the fuel Drought that keeps getting worse, It’s becoming impossible.

Jeff Mount, a senior researcher at the Institute of Public Policy, said: California Water Policy Center.

May, Pioneer Department-Federal agency that manages water in the area- Shut off It is the main canal that bypasses the irrigation water above the Klamath River, and for the first time since irrigation began in 1907, farmers were no longer supplied with water.

“We will try to stay alive and keep the farm afloat for another year, and hope it will rain and snow this fall,” Crawford said. “I don’t know until the end of the season, but there is a good chance of bankruptcy.”Today’s water crisis stems from decisions made over a century ago. 1906, Pioneer Bureau Drained wetlands to Disrupt the careful balance of water needed to create farmland and maintain other people in the basin. Some of the affected people are endangered long-lived salmon by the federal government of Upper Klamath Lake, which was the main source of food for Native American tribes in the region until the fish population plummeted. There are fish, migratory swamps, and tribal salmon. Further downstream depends on.

Each of these populations is at stake as drought reduces water supply in the region.

The low water levels of Upper Klamath Lake, where the Klamaths build their homes, leave sucker fish exposed to predators and create hypoxia in the water.

The two endangered suckers are at the heart of the tribe’s creative story. “We wouldn’t have been here without those fish,” said Don Gentry, chairman of the Klamath Tribal Council. “They were very important to our survival.”

Gentry, however, said he hadn’t eaten sucker fish for years. In 1986, before it was endangered, the Klamath tribes voluntarily stopped hunting suckers and tried to increase their numbers.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if the suckers didn’t die this summer,” Mount said.

in recent years, The water level of the lake is below the water level required by the federal government And it also endangered the ecosystem.Federal Judge in April of this year was denied A motion submitted by the Klamath tribes to prevent the bureau from sending water downstream would have left more water in areas where sucker fish were at risk of dying. The judge said the authorities were “not responsible for this year’s unprecedented drought.”

“The decisions we have made now make us feel even more marginalized in our own hometown,” Gentry said. “If we can’t catch, eat and share those fish, how can we be the people our creators intended for us?”

Downstream, salmon populations that are essential to the identity and culture of other tribes Ten% About what it was historically.

Ron Reed, a cultural biologist of the Calc tribe, said: “When I was growing up, you could actually walk across the river with salmon.”

Frankie Myers, vice chairman of the Yurok tribe, said this year’s salmon quota will be less than one per person.This is the median income $ 11,000 a year And people rely on salmon to feed their families. He said salmon are the center of their lives. In their native language, the salmon word “nepuy” means “what we eat.”

“The protein we get from salmon harvests is very important to our overall physical, mental and mental health,” Myers said. “Without salmon, we wouldn’t exist.”

Salmon in the Klamath Basin are fighting the confluence of poor water quality, high water temperatures, slow-moving water, and factors that can lead to disease outbreaks.

A sample of juveniles caught in early May 97% Infected with C Shasta, A parasite known to kill salmon all at once. In the first two weeks of the month, the Yurok reported: 70% Some of the salmon found in their trap were dead.

Water scarcity has also proven deadly for birds in the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge and the Tule Lake Relocation Center. If farmers notice water shortages, so do wetlands.

“When a bad year comes, it’s a bad year for farmers. This year is a bad year for fish. This year is a bad year for birds,” Mount said. “This is one of the most important areas for the Pacific Flyway.”

In the 2020 water scarcity, the warm, stagnant water of the wetlands promoted bacterial growth. Bird botulism addiction..Illness killed more 60,000 According to one estimate, ducks and stag beetles. This year, a catastrophic drought put birds at risk of outbreaks again.

These overlapping crises are causing conflict in the Klamath River basin. American Far Right Extremism..

In May, irrigators belonging to Oregon Human Rights, Dan Nielsen, Grant Knoll Buy land Next to the headgate of the main canal of the Klamath project. People planted signs of protest, With a hosted conspiracy theorist Flying cards 2024 flag.Asked if they were planning to repeat 2001 – the year they saw United States Marshals Service Intervention And threat Nielsen told Jefferson Public Radio about the armed riots, “I’m going to do what I have to do.”

Despite the threat of oncoming violence, conflict is inevitable.

Water scarcity is becoming a new norm in the west, Multiple Basin Dealing with this year’s extreme drought, Chronically dry for decades..

In Mount’s view, the key to managing that shortage is to expect and plan for it. “What is missing [in the Klamath Basin] It’s a great, durable plan that everyone has signed on, even if they reluctantly sign on, “says Mount. “And it’s still elusive in that basin.”

What the plan should come with is another issue, and the proposed solution raises various levels of controversy. Most people agree on the need to restore salmon habitat along the tributaries of the Klamath River. Removing the four dams along the Klamath River could increase fish populations. Completed by 2024.. And there are more fundamental and controversial proposals, such as overhaul of the Development Bureau and suspension of agricultural land production.

Mount believes that the solution will necessarily include some combination of these ideas, and that dispute stakeholders will need to find a common rationale.

“There are too many people in the water business aiming to beat someone else. If they prevent something bad from happening, it’s considered progress,” he said. “It won’t progress until something good happens.”

Water Scarcity: How Climate Change Helps Crisis in the Western United States | US News

By Swati Pramod

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