Climate change is going to make the western US an even thirstier place in decades to come, according to a new report from the Interior Department. The report predicts that water flow in major river basins including the Colorado and Rio Grande could drop by up to 20% this century, Reuters reports. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar warns that the changes could affect tens of millions of people in the fast-growing region.
"These changes will directly affect the West's water supplies, which are already stretched in meeting demands for drinking, irrigating crops, generating electricity and filling our lakes and aquifers for activities like fishing, boating and to power our economy," Salazar warned. The report—which did not dwell on the causes of climate change—will serve as the foundation for plans to develop strategies for better water management, Salazar said. (Read more water stories.)