The front line of water conflicts: Ranching

How Wyoming ranchers are fighting to conserve depleting groundwater reserves.

On The Carbon Copy podcast this week:

Western states in the U.S. are experiencing a megadrought. Water levels at Lake Mead and Lake Powell are falling hundreds of feet, and shortages on the Colorado River mean that Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico are facing cuts to their water use. 

But these aren’t the only reserves that are under threat: Hundreds of feet underground, the drought is impacting our water security in ways we can’t even see. 

The Ogallala Aquifer is the biggest aquifer in America and one of the largest in the world. In addition to providing drinking water for almost 2 million people, the aquifer supports about $35 billion in agricultural production every year. But the aquifer is drying up in many regions, and that’s creating new conflicts over water rights.

This week, Melodie Edwards, host of the podcast The Modern West, brings us to the front lines of the Western water wars. We go to Laramie County, Wyoming, where a group of ranchers has been opposing new permits for high-capacity wells — and changing the state’s water law in the process. 

The Carbon Copy is a co-production of Post Script Media and Canary Media.

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