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Water supply is the United States' most pressing environmental problem, scientists say

As Californians face record-breaking drought, scientists and policymakers agree that water supply is the most significant environment concern of our time.

By
Brooks Hays
Looking down onto the North (behind) and south (Front) forks of the American River part of the Folsom Lake, which is experience historic low water levels, in Folsom, California, on January 19, 2014. California Governor Jerry Brown last Friday declared a state wide drought. UPI/Ken James
Looking down onto the North (behind) and south (Front) forks of the American River part of the Folsom Lake, which is experience historic low water levels, in Folsom, California, on January 19, 2014. California Governor Jerry Brown last Friday declared a state wide drought. UPI/Ken James | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Feb. 6 (UPI) -- A new study suggests that water supply issues will be the greatest environmental and public policy challenge Americans face in the coming decades.

Published in BioScience and carried out by researchers at the University of York and the University of California, Davis, the study surveyed a range of leaders and decision-makers in the field of natural resource management.

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The survey asked respondents -- including 94 policymakers, 70 government scientists, and 228 academic scientists -- to prioritize their environmental concerns. Worries over longer and more frequent droughts, as well as shrinking water supplies, rose to the top of the list.

“The consensus in priorities is even more striking as California’s current drought leads to unprecedented reductions in water supply and delivery,” said co-author Dr. Erica Fleishman.

Meanwhile, politicians on Capitol Hill considered ways Congress might be able to help Californians get the water they need, as the Golden State continues to suffer from one of the longest and most severe droughts in history.

Republicans contended that ranchers and farmers are suffering due to years of poor Democratic policy -- putting conservation and fish ahead of their needs. But Democrats countered, calling the newfound concern and subsequent attacks political gamesmanship. The problem is weather not policy, Democrats said.

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"It would be more productive for this body to join in a rain dance on the floor today than to pass this bill,’’ said Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Cal.

[University of York] [LA Times]

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