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Fifth National Climate Assessment - Read the Report

Addressing water supply challenges in the American West


Water recycling and reuse offsets the demand for imported water in Southern California, such as the diversion of Colorado River Water through the All-American Canal. Credit: Andrew Pernick/Bureau of Reclamation.

Collaborative studies among scientists and decision-makers are identifying strategies to meet current and future water demands.

The western United States faces growing water challenges. Drought, population change, aging infrastructure, and ecosystem needs all strain existing water and power infrastructure, and future climate change is expected to further increase stress on water supplies. Through the WaterSMART Basin Study Program, the Bureau of Reclamation works with states, tribes, non-governmental organizations, other Federal agencies, and local partners to identify strategies to adapt to and mitigate current or future water supply and demand imbalances, including the impacts of climate change and other stressors on water and power facilities. Since 2009, Reclamation has funded 27 Basin Studies in 15 western states, 18 of which are now complete.

Each Basin Study examines projections of future supply and demand by river basin, analyzes infrastructure performance in the face of changing supplies, and develops strategies to meet current and future demands. Basin Studies have involved coordination with other Federal agencies, including the USGS, EPA, DOE, and DoD. These collaborative efforts aim to support decision-makers as they plan for and implement measures to meet current and future water demands.