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Fresh water shortage could hit US in 50 years, report warns

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Unchecked climate change and population growth could cause the United States of America to experience fresh water shortages as storage basins dry up. 

Almost half of the 204 fresh water basins that supply the US could fail to meet demands by 2071, US government-backed research published in the journal Earth’s Future has concluded.  

A water basin is a portion of land where water from rainfall flows downhill toward a river and its tributaries. 

Shrinking rainfall volume, and increase evaporation due to higher temperatures, both driven by climate change could diminish the supply in basins, which will be under greater pressures from a growing population. 

“There’s a lot of the U.S. over time that will have less water,” co-author Thomas Brown told Reuters. “We’ll be seeing some changes.” 

The basins affected cover the country’s central and southern Great Plains, the southwest and central Rocky Mountain states, as well as parts of California, the South and the Midwest, said Brown. 

The agricultural sector can consume more than 75% of water in the US, and the report authors went on to suggest that farmers may need to cut the volume of water used in irrigation of industrial crops used to feed animals.  

The meat industry is a particularly heavy user of water, to produce a kilogram of beef takes about 12,000 of water.  

The study is part of research conducted to produce the Resources Planning Act Assessment, a report on the status of the nation’s renewable resources that must be published every 10 years following a 1974 act of Congress. 

The study is in contrast with President Trump, who has openly expressed scepticism towards climate change. 

At the present rate of warming, the world’s temperatures would likely reach 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels sometime between 2030 and 2052 according to a United Nations report published last year. 

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