(2009 – current)
(of land or a climate) having little or no rain; too dry or barren to support vegetation : hot and arid conditions.
All over the arid parts of the American West the remains of human persistence is visible throughout the landscape. Old immigrant roads, mines, abandoned houses and whole towns can be found along highways or way out in the desert and mountains. Of older date are the vast numbers of ruins left by the people inhabiting the land before the exploration of North America by non-indigenous people which spanned centuries and consisted of efforts by numerous people and expeditions from various countries to map the continent. The European colonization followed and millions of immigrants flowed west searching for a new start. Many of those chose to settle in the arid regions of the west in spite of the hardships and failures they were doomed to endure. Where gold, silver or other precious metals were found mining towns flourished and as soon as the mines ran dry the towns were abandoned. Often they were only populated for a very short timespan. Today the evidence of the above stand like ghosts throughout the region, much of it very well preserved because of the dry climate.
The other part of the history is the booming towns that exists today in spite of of the harsh climate and often-unforgiving heat and lack of water. These metropolitan areas like Las Vegas and Phoenix are some of the fastest growing cities in the United States and their number one concern is water. Trying to address this problem dams have been build across rivers causing huge natural areas to be flooded and the once mighty Colorado River no longer reaches the Sea of Cortez. Its entire annual flow has been diverted to satisfy the ever-growing demand for water throughout the region.
In 1913 water was diverted to booming Los Angeles from as far as Owens River 200 miles away as the crow flies. Instead of watering Owens Lake it was now watering Los Angeles and as a result 110-square-mile lake dried up and became a howling wasteland of toxic dust which, despite efforts to control it, is still a big concern for the around 50,000 people if affects.
Per capita water used by the residents in California, Nevada and Arizona is now as much as 200 gallons per day, more than 120 percent above the average for the rest of the nation. Many people in the American Southwest still have to face the fact that they live in a desert where green golf courses and swimming pools are out of place and water is not a given.
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