Salazar: Water deficit worsening in the West |

Salazar: Water deficit worsening in the West

Bruce Finley/The Denver Post

A hotter, drier climate is worsening the imbalance between water supply and rising demand in seven Western states where 40 million people depend on the Colorado River, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced Wednesday after completion of a three-year study.

The study projects a future of falling river flows, shrinking snowpack, wilting crops and an intensifying struggle for wildlife.

Millions of people would be affected by shortages, Salazar said.

"We are in a very troubling trajectory," Salazar said in a phone conference with journalists and senior officials. "We need to reduce our demand. We also need to look at increasing our water supply through practical, doable, common sense measures such as re-use."

State water authorities who helped fund and conduct the study have included multibillion dollar options they are considering to import water into the Colorado River Basin. Examples: diversion of Missouri River water to the Denver area and beyond, and desalination so that oceans could be tapped.