Water Wars Fights over an increasingly strained water supply in the Western United States have become nastier in recent years, and a new report says the problem will only get worse. Interior Secretary Gale Norton is now proposing a plan to ease the tension among cities and farmers by making it easier to buy and sell water. But critics say the plan punishes poor people. Read the proposal online.
NPR logo

Water Wars

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/1257682/1257863" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Water Wars

Water Wars

Interior Secretary Looks to Ease Tensions in Western States

Water Wars

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/1257682/1257863" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

The San Francisco Bay area and southern California may face a water shortage crisis by 2025 as cities, farms and wildlife compete for a limited water supply, according to the Interior Department. hide caption

See a full map.
toggle caption

The Interior Department is proposing a plan to change the way the federal government deals with water problems in the Western United States. Interior Secretary Gale Norton says fights over precious Western water have become much nastier in recent years, thanks in part to booming population growth.

Norton wants to kill this trend by making it easier for farmers to buy water-saving irrigation systems, and by finding ways to desalinate water cheaply. Most of all, Norton wants to make it easier to buy and sell the water. Critics of the plan say it punishes poor people and endangered species. NPR's John Nielsen reports.