Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017

High and dry

The West's drought melted away, but not in Montana

Smoke rises from the Lolo Peak fire in Montana as seen from an airplane on August 18, 2017. The wildfire has expanded to 28 thousand acres, prompting evacuations. The state has been hit with both wildfires and drought this year. (CITIZENSIDE/Jay Cline)

Citizenside

Water Deeply & Montana Standard

A wet winter in 2017 pulled most of the West out of a long and serious drought. But one state was left behind: Montana. Some state officials are calling the drought a “100-year event.” To make matters worse, the same Montana region hammered by drought also experienced the largest wildfire in the nation so far this year. So, while water officials may be praying for rain, fire officials are praying for snow to stop this season's wildfires.

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N.M. pipeline project would stretch 150 miles

News Deeply & AP

In New Mexico, an absentee property owner aims to tap ancient groundwater for delivery to Albuquerque, but ranchers in the arid valley worry it will dry up their livelihood and the water will never return. The plan is uncannily similar to California’s Cadiz project, where a wealthy landowner plans to pump ancient Mojave Desert groundwater to serve the Los Angeles metropolitan region.

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As water needs grow, will Utah dam Bear River?

High Country News

New dams have been proposed in Colorado, Utah, and other Western states. The motivations behind the projects are complex, but in some cases the same fears drive dam defenders and detractors alike: a drier future and rising populations. In 1991, Utah legislators decreed the Bear River should host a water development project. Decades later, officials are still grappling with the same issue.

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