Fault Lines

The Colorado River: a lifeline running dry

Amid one of the worst droughts in recent memory, Fault Lines examines the battle over water rights in the western US.

A drought in the western United States has created a battle over resources, as private landowners compete with the public over access to freshwater supplies.

In the state of California, the drought is in its fourth year with researchers believing it could last longer.

In April, the state’s governor, Jerry Brown, announced a series of mandatory restrictions, forcing residents to reduce their water usage by 25% in the coming year.

But despite playing a massive role in depleting local water supplies, the state’s powerful agriculture industry has been left unaffected.

It’s not just California facing a future without water. More than 40 million people across seven US states and Mexico get their water from the Colorado River – where demand is now exceeding supplies.

So who really owns the water? And who decides when and how to use it?

Fault Lines travels down the Colorado River – a vital resource now in danger of running dry – and asks what is being done to protect it.