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Unprecedented fires and droughts: now we are escaping from the American Far West

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“Why build houses if we don’t have enough water?” Is the fundamental question posed by Wade Woolstenhulme, the mayor of Oakley, who has spent the last few weeks defending the moratorium. With this measure, the construction of 36 new houses on the edge of the town has been suspended.

The blockade of Oakley and Henefer on new building projects could be the fate of the whole region, which is increasingly hot and dry. Meanwhile, fires devour homes built in the wildest regions and forests. The two largest fires in the history of the West, the Bootleg Fire in Oregon, not yet extinguished, and the Dixie Fire in California, burned territory equivalent to the size of New York, Los Angeles and Chicago combined in a matter of days.

Unprecedented drought

“There is no human intervention that can save these forests unless we stop the climate emergency,” said Washington State Governor Jay Inslee. The situation is less spectacular, but equally dramatic in Utah, where the population has increased by 18% from 2010 to 2020, but the reservoirs are unable to fill more than half of normal levels, in a supply crisis that is now spreading. from Colorado to California.

Farmers and ranchers, who use 70 to 80 percent of all water, let the fields dry out or sell off cows and sheep, which can no longer graze. Governor Spencer Cox gave the example of his family farm, where all but one fields have completely dried up. “It is a brutal crisis – admitted Cox -. If this continues, there will be real implications for drinking water and this is the thing that worries me the most ”.

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Hence the moratoriums, which are now spreading throughout the West. In mythical Marin County, north of San Francisco, California, which is struggling with the lowest rainfall in 140 years, water authorities would like to block permits for new water connections to homes.

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