Up to 96 of the 204 water basins that supply most of the freshwater in the United States could be falling short of monthly demand by 2071, due primarily to climate change and population growth, according to preliminary modelling funded by the federal government and published in the journal Earth’s Future.
“There’s a lot of the U.S. over time that will have less water,” co-author and U.S. Forest Service researcher Thomas Brown told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “We’ll be seeing some changes.”
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The shortages will hit the central and southern Great Plains, the southwestern and central Rocky Mountain states, and parts of California, the South, and the Midwest, the news agency notes. Noting that agriculture accounts for about 75% of U.S. water demand, the authors said reduced irrigation would relieve some of the pressure on water basins.
“Specifically, the scientists say farmers could cut their irrigation of industrial crops used primarily for animal feed and biofuels, such as hay, field corn, soybeans, sorghum, millet, rapeseed, and switchgrass,” Thomson Reuters notes.