ProPublica

Journalism in the Public Interest

California Eases Restrictions on Water Use

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.

Explore the River

Tour America's seven-state, 1,450-mile plumbing system

Key Facts About the Water Crisis

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

Holy Crop

Government’s damaging choice to back cotton in the desert

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.

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.

Watch Las Vegas Grow

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

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.

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

View photos the disappearing Lake Powell.

Picturing the Drought

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

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?

California’s Drought Is Part of a Much Bigger Water Crisis