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Three Ways to Hydrate the West —Ryan Bradley

As the man with the firmest grasp on the West’s looming water crises, Peter Gleick maintains a surprisingly glass-half-full outlook. “We use less water today than we did 35 years ago,” he says. “In 1970 California used 38.7 billion gallons for 20 million people a day. In 2000 it used 38.4 for 34 million.” Here, Gleick lays out a simple three-step plan for keeping the water running.

1. Change Plans

Current distribution and water use models are based on outdated rainfall and snowpack statistics. The climate is changing; we need to respond.

2. Don’t Waste

When you drill for oil, you hit water, which gets contaminated and has to be disposed of. It’s time we treated water like oil: as a precious resource.

3. Manage Well

Our political boundaries don’t match our watersheds: Seven states share the Colorado River. We need a nonpartisan national water commission.

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