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10 US Cities That Risk Running Out of Water

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H2OH, THIS DOESN'T LOOK GOOD
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Douglas A. McIntyre, Michael B. Sauter, and Ashley C. Allen of 24/7 Wall St. analyzed data collected by Ceres, an environmental research group, and put together a list of 10 major US cities that are at risk of running out of water. The list is below, with abbreviated passages from McIntyre, et al:

10. ORLANDO, FL

On the city website, the mayor is quoted, saying: "Orlando Utilities Commission water usage trends show Orlando water demand exceeding the supply by approximately 2014 if no action is taken."

9. ATLANTA, GA

Last year, a federal judge declared Atlanta's withdrawals from [a reservoir shared by Georgia, Alabama, and Florida] illegal. If the ruling stands, the city will lose roughly 40% of its water supply by 2012.

8. TUCSON, AZ

The city is in the Sonoran desert, an extremely arid region which receives less than 12 inches of rainfall each year. The Natural Resources Defense Council warns that the city's groundwater supply may not last much longer.

7. LAS VEGAS, NV

The city's main source is Lake Mead, which supplies 85% of the water used in the Las Vegas Valley. Unfortunately, the lake is 59% empty and is approaching its first water shortage ever. In addition to Las Vegas, it would affect other areas of Nevada and Arizona. It could even stop the Hoover Dam from producing electricity as soon as 2013.

6. FORT WORTH, TX

As Fort Worth continues to grow (its population is expected to hit 4.3 million by 2060), water demand has continued to exceed the water available through local supply. To remedy this problem, the county water district is trying to bring in more water from Oklahoma's Red River. Oklahoma, wishing to preserve its water sources, limits interstate water sales. Fort Worth has countered with a lawsuit, which is pending in the US Court of Appeals.

5. SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA, CA

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council and CERES studies, the San Fransisco Bay area, including adjacent cities San Jose and Oakland, are "very likely" to experience a severe crisis as a result of water shortage within the next 50 years.

4. SAN ANTONIO, TX

San Antonio and Bexar County received the highest risk rating given by the Natural Resources Defense Council, meaning the city is in extreme danger of demand exceeding supply by 2050 without major systematic changes.

3. PHOENIX, AZ

Like many of the other western cities on this list, Phoenix is extremely dependent on water imported from the Colorado River. Residents draw nearly half the city's water from it, and as the Colorado River Basin enters the eleventh year of its drought, the city's reliance on the river may soon become a serious problem.

2. HOUSTON, TX

Since 2000, Houston has been the fifth-fastest-growing city in the country, and its presence in an area with high drought likelihood makes it an immediate risk for serious water shortages.

1. LOS ANGELES, CA

In its utility risk rating, CERES gave the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power the highest likelihood of risk among the cities it assessed. The Hoover Dam, LA's main source of electricity, is also producing at a historically low rate. Some scientists suspect this trend will continue until its electricity production is too small to sustain the dam economically.
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