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Describe and explain the physical and human reasons for the water stresses in the Southwest of the USA.

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Introduction

´╗┐Dan Grist Describe and explain the physical and human reasons for the water stresses in the Southwest of the USA. South West USA is made up of 4 states which have a combined population of 48.5 million with the majority of people concentrated along a strip between San Francisco and San Diego in California. This area is the world?s 7th largest economy with a combined GDP of $2,300 billion in 2008; however it is still an area suffering from major water stress (see map.) The best way to describe the area?s water supply is that it is low and uncertain; these issues are caused due to both physical and human factors. The physical geography of the area is a major contributor to why it has water problems ? annual precipitation levels in the region are typically below 750mm with extensive desert areas having an average below 250mm per year. ...read more.

Middle

The effects of this mountain barrier are felt not only in the west but throughout the State, with some areas left completely parched. The low precipitation levels have resulted in prolonged droughts e.g. in 1987-1992 and 2005-2008; these could possibly become more frequent and severe in the future as a result of climate change. Changes in global temperatures would also lead to less and more irregular precipitation levels. There are many human factors behind the water crisis; these factors result in an increase of the demand of water and reduction in the supply of water. The main reason why demand for water has increased is due to the exponential growth of the population ? California?s population has grown from only 2 million in 1900, to 10 million by 1950, and 37.7 million by 2007. ...read more.

Conclusion

an increase in population have both resulted in massive water problems for the South West of the USA. Describe the ways in which these stresses have traditionally been managed and explain why these responses are unsustainable. California depends on 3 major water supply lines in order to supply its growing industry and population. The State Water Project (SWP) and Central Valley Project (CVP) provide water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta for southern and central California. The map shows the SWP lines in red and the CVP lines in blue. Both these projects combined contain 42 major dams and reservoirs and they irrigate 1.5 million hectares of farmland. These schemes also provide drinking water for around 22 million Californians. The river Colorado is also a massive source of water. The river rises in the Rocky mountains and flows 2,300km south into the Gulf of California. What other future solutions are there to the water shortages in the Southwest of the USA? ...read more.

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