Drought is upon the American West — with major implications for human health, biodiversity, agriculture, food security, supply chains, cities, land use, and the most very basic of human rights.

This is a story now only worsened by a climate emergency, which has brought higher temperatures, more extreme conditions, and heightened risks.

Fires, droughts, power outages, competition over water, and ecosystem collapse all result. Western droughts are becoming longer, more intense, and more frequent.

But as water scarcity sweeps the West, many see this as the imperative moment for rapid innovation in agriculture, technology, nature-based systems, and policy to manage dwindling supplies.

Interactive Broadcast

Watch Drought in the American West, a special convening of journalists, experts, and others on the front lines in this interactive broadcast and Q&A.

Including Bidtah Becker, Navajo Tribal Utility Authority; Giulio Boccaletti, Author, Water: A Biography; Heather Cooley, Pacific Institute; Dr. Peter Gleick, Pacific Institute; Cody Pope, Vector Center; Susana De Anda, Community Water Center; Sammy Roth, Los Angeles Times; Hon. Dan Glickman, former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture;  Andre Fourie, Anheuser-Busch InBev; J. Carl Ganter, Circle of Blue and Vector Center. 

Multimedia

Drought Coverage

Constant, Compounding Disasters Are Exhausting Emergency Response

Fires, droughts, floods, power outages. The interval between disasters is shortening, or in some cases disappearing altogether.

Drought, The Everything Disaster

When water stops flowing, painful days are at hand.

As a Hot, Dry Summer Begins in California, More Water Wells Are Failing

Government agencies and nonprofit groups are preparing for difficult months ahead.

Toxin Levels Spike, Prompting Drinking Water Emergency in Northern California

Cyanotoxins in the state’s second-largest freshwater lake soared this month amid a hot, dry summer.

‘Eyes in the Sky’ Help Police California Water Use

Satellite data is one monitoring tool regulators turn to in this very dry year.

Colorado River Forecasts Not a ‘Crystal Ball’

Computer models inform key decisions in the Colorado River basin. But they cannot predict the future.

Shrinking Reservoirs Trigger Deeper Water Cuts for Lower Colorado River

Federal government declares, for the first time, a Tier 1 shortage due to low water at Lake Mead.

The Colorado River Basin’s Daunting New Math

The basin's big reservoirs have fallen to uncharted territory. The forecast isn't any better.

Dry Wells in Northern California Bring Home the Costs and Stresses of Drought

A relentless interval of hot, dry weather, made worse by the buildup of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere, has turned Glenn County, California, and the surrounding area, into a cauldron of flame, dust, and smoke.

Amid Dire Colorado River Outlook, States Plan to Tap Their Lake Mead Savings Accounts

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Arizona and California intend to draw on water they banked in the big reservoir, even as water levels drop.

Innovative Partnerships and Exchanges are Securing the Gila River Indian Community’s Water Future

The Gila River Indian Community is restoring its “lifeblood” back through innovative partnerships and water exchanges.

Cheese in the Desert: Why Mega-Dairies are Piping Water onto Oregon’s Shrub-Steppe

An environmental coalition is lobbying for a moratorium on mega-dairies, which have proliferated in a water-challenged area of northeastern Oregon