A Major Drought Is Gripping The West. Still, There’s Reason To Be Hopeful The Water Situation Will Improve


Concerning news about Utah’s extreme drought keeps coming. On Wednesday, Utah’s Department of Natural Resources said the drought continues to have “a stranglehold on the state,” despite wild weather swings that dumped rain in some areas. Washington Post Columnist David Von Drehle recently wrote an opinion piece about the drought gripping the West. He spoke with KUER’s Pamela McCall about the situation.

This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

Pamela McCall: You write, as the old saying goes, ‘whiskey is for drinking and water is for fighting.’ How does that outlook set up the way we think about water in the West today?

David Von Drehle: Well, it points to a fact that really everyone has known about the American West from the earliest European settlement. The great explorer of the Colorado River, John Wesley Powell, wrote in 1893 that there would not be enough water to support the significant population of the West. The water wars started almost as soon as there were people making claims on the rivers of the West and people have been fighting over it from the beginning.

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