Drought-stricken Midwestern states are already squabbling over rights to water in the region's rivers. Now, the fight could be intensified by a new idea for diverting water from the Missouri River to help seven arid states in the West.
A new federal-state study of western water needs includes an option for constructing a 670-mile pipeline to carry water from the Missouri. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has been working with the western states on the study and is expected to release it later this month.
Federal officials say the pipeline is only one of several options. But it is expected to draw strong opposition in the Midwest, which depends on the Missouri for drinking water, hydropower and shipping. Other options in the plan focus on conservation and water recycling.
A map of the proposed route of the pipeline and more information can also be found in this article from the New York Times.
The Times, in their account, also references an article from the Denver Post from last week. The Post's take also includes reaction from conservation groups:
Diverting surplus water from the Missouri and Mississippi rivers was floated in 2006 as western states began searching for ways to enable population growth.
Conservation groups dismissed most ideas for importing water as nonsense and called the Missouri project misguided.
"Huge pipelines aren't solutions to the fundamental problem that we are using more water than we can sustain. You can't build more water," said Drew Beckwith, water policy manager for Boulder-based Western Resource Advocates. "We need to work together on conservation and reuse strategies that can have an immediate positive impact. Even if a pipeline from the Missouri River was the perfect solution, how would we pay for it?"
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