Colorado

Apr 25, 2011 4:57 PM by Greg Boyce

Interior Department: Western rivers getting smaller

WASHINGTON (AP) - A new government report says already scarce water supplies in the Western United States are likely to dwindle further as a result of climate change, exacerbating problems for millions of water users in the West.

The Interior Department report says annual flows in three prominent river basins - the Colorado, Rio Grande and San Joaquin - could decline by as much 8 to 14 percent over the next four decades. The three rivers provide water to eight states.  The declining water supply comes as the West and Southwest, already among the fastest-growing parts of the country, continue to gain population.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar called water the region's "lifeblood" and said small changes in snowpack and rainfall levels could have a major effect on tens of millions of people.

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