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Killing the Colorado

The Water Crisis in the West

The Colorado River is dying — the victim of legally sanctioned overuse, the relentless forces of urban growth, willful ignorance among policymakers and a misplaced confidence in human ingenuity. ProPublica investigates the policies that are putting this precious resource in peril.

California and EPA Poised to Expand Pollution of Potential Drinking Water Reserves

A little-known program under federal environment law is being used to permit oil and gas companies to inject waste into the state’s aquifers, even as the thirst for groundwater grows.

Gimme a Break! IRS Tax Loophole Can Reward Excessive Water Use in Drought-stricken West

Experts fear tax deductions for water use as a “depleted asset” could actually worsen the crisis as rivers and reservoirs dry up.

Discovery TV to Air Film Inspired by Our Water Crisis Reporting

“Killing the Colorado” will premier Aug. 4, and include the work of five Academy-Award-winning filmmakers. The film tells the true story of the water crisis in the American West.

As One of Its Chief Sources of Water Dries Up, California Eases Restrictions on Use Nonetheless

A single relatively wet winter has led California officials to relax in a way some water experts fear is reckless.

Drought be Dammed

The water crisis in the West has renewed debate about the effectiveness of major dams, with some pushing for the enormous Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River to be decommissioned.

Liquid Assets

A maverick hedge fund manager thinks Wall Street is the answer to the water crisis in the West.

Former Las Vegas Water Czar Joins Board of Casino Giant

Patricia Mulroy’s appointment to the board at Wynn Resorts re-ignites debate about her performance during a time of explosive growth and worsening drought.

Amid Drought, California Experiments With Leasing Water Rights

The state's cities need water. Its farmers have it. Could leasing rights to it solve the crisis responsibly?

Less Than Zero

Despite decades of accepted science, California and Arizona are still miscounting their water supplies.

How Much Water Does the West Really Have?

As America’s west has waged its battle against water scarcity, some of its officials have been miscalculating to some degree just how much water is actually available. If states in the West keep managing water this way, we risk a water crisis even worse than we fear.

Picturing the Drought

Documenting the water crisis in the West, a photographer confronts distress, beauty and man’s complicity.

End of the Miracle Machines: Inside the Power Plant Fueling America's Drought

The Navajo Generating Station helps move trillions of gallons of water over mountains, through canals, 336 miles into Phoenix and Tucson. But it comes at an enormous cost.

A Wonder in Decline

The disappearing Lake Powell in pictures

Use It or Lose It: Across the West, Exercising One’s Right to Waste Water

“Use it or lose it” clauses give farmers, ranchers and governments holding water rights a powerful incentive to use more water than they need.

Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas, While Water Supplies Last

How 40 years of unchecked growth may eventually bust Las Vegas’ water supply.

The ‘Water Witch’: Pat Mulroy Preached Conservation While Backing Growth in Las Vegas

Despite Pat Mulroy's conservation bona fides, Las Vegas' former water chief put the city's expansion above all else. Did she push Vegas past its limits? “I've had it right up to here with all this ‘Stop your growth,’” she says.

What You Need to Know About the Water Crisis in the West

What led to the West's historic water crisis? What can be done to preserve the Colorado River? ProPublica explores the situation, at a glance.

Killing the Colorado: Explore the River

How the Colorado was turned into a giant plumbing system.

Holy Crop: How Federal Dollars Are Financing the Water Crisis in the West

The federal subsidies that prop up cotton farming in Arizona are just one of myriad ways policymakers have refused to reshape laws to reflect water shortages throughout the Colorado River Basin states.

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