But bring up the American West’s worst drought in 1,200 years and their reverie turns to head-shaking anxiety and disgust. They may have more water than most — hundreds of miles from fallowing farms in Arizona or browning lawns in Los Angeles — but they know that on the Colorado River system, the massive, unchecked demand for water downstream is threat to everything upstream.
“It takes millions of gallons of water for a golf course,” Tharrett said. “It’s going to reach a point when people have to decide, ‘Do I survive or do I play golf? Should I have a lawn in the desert or pay a $100 for a basket of berries?'”
“How long can we do this?” Williams said of the Flaming Gorge releases. “It’s limited to a few years. The rest of it is going to depend on how long do we persist in the drought, and where does our water use go? We’re going to have to learn to live with the water we have, and the use we’ve sustained for the last several decades is going to change.”
The Southwest’s unchecked thirst for Colorado River water could prove devastating upstream