The Colorado river is not only threatened by climate change and over-use of the river water. A major threat comes from an enormous radioactive mining-waste pit. This waste, or ‘tailings’ site is located on the bank of the Colorado River, in Moab, Utah, a small town that turned into the uranium capital of the world in the 1950`s.
`Welcome to the hottest city in the western hemisphere`, says Doyle Wilson, the water manager of Lake Havasu City, in the airconditioned city hall of his home town. It`s August, it`s 9 am, and it`s already soaring hot. `In 1994 we had a record temperature of 128 degrees Fahrenheit, which makes 53 degrees Celsius`, Wilson tells proudly, while we’re walking to his office. Record temperatures or not: people keep on coming to Lake Havasu, a pensioners water paradise in the US state of Arizona, about a three hours´ drive south of Las Vegas. `We get more and more snowbirds, that`s how we call the pensioners. Many of them fly in through Las Vegas from Canada`, says Wilson.
For more than ten years the American West has suffered from an unprecedented drought. With an exponential population growth and the temperatures on the rise due to climate change, water levels in the reservoirs of the Colorado River are going down at an alarming rate. Politicians and water managers fear water shortages in the near future; conflicts seem unavoidable. Patricia Mulroy of the Southern Nevada Water Authority: ‘I am worried.’
Lake Havasu City – The further south we get, the weirder the Colorado River and its accompanying lakes seem to get. Take Lake Havasu City. According to the city’s very knowledgeable water manager Doyle Wilson, this is `the hottest city in the western hemisphere (128 degrees Fahrenheit in 1994, or 53 degrees Celsius!).
Weird, weirder, weirdest – the Salton Sea in the south of California, just two hours from Los Angeles, is a place incomparable to anywhere else in the world. Located at an altitude of 40 meters below sea level, in August this place lies in the sweltering, humid heat and is waiting for the first monsoon rains, as even the Californians call it.
August 16th – Las Vegas – There`s a lot of things you could imagine you would need a policeman for in Las Vegas, but few people would imagine that this city of abundance has water police.
August 12th, Grand Junction – Why do people want to live in Grand Junction? ‘They come here to die’, says our waitress Jenny with a wry smile, while she serves steaks and beer. Jenny works at Applebee’s, one of the dozens of fast-food and steak restaurants in Grand Junction, a roadside town of roughly 100.000 inhabitants.
Bob Munson is one of those people you know when you live in Boulder, a friendly, small university town in Colorado, on the outskirts of Denver. In an earlier life, he earned a fortune in engineering. Nowadays, he’s a farmer, and a busy one.