Why Population Growth is an Issue


The Colorado River supplies water to seven states and about 40 million people. (Graphic: U.S. Bureau of Reclamation)

The U.S. Southwest is even more threatened with water scarcity that results from the overuse of the Colorado River than had been previously known. The water available to the region comprised of Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Nevada and California, comes not just from the Colorado River, but also from groundwater in aquifers. A new study of the groundwater resource has found that it is being consumed much faster than it is replenished according to The Washington Post.

According to the article, the study, conducted by researchers at the University of California at Irvine, California Institute for Technology, NASA, and the National Center for Atmospheric Research, concluded that, “…federal officials allocated 30 percent more water from the Colorado River than was actually available. The gaps were made up by groundwater. Across Western states, the farmers and urban areas that rely on groundwater are already seeing declining water tables, an indication that supply is running low.” In most of the region there is no regulation of drilling new wells to tap into the groundwater resource.

The supply of water is essential to sustaining agricultural production, human consumption and industrial output. The declining water resource results both from climate change and over-consumption. The prospect that is implied by the increasingly scarce resource is for rationing of water usage and that implies trade-offs among competing users.

Between 1960 and 2010, the population of the six states has increased by about 35 million residents, i.e., 170 percent. The largest population growth has been in California, but its rate of growth (138%) has been dwarfed by that in Nevada (848%) and Arizona (393%). During the same period, the foreign-born population soared by more than 700 percent, a net increase of about 12 million residents. If the population growth continues, the water resource crunch will inevitably be much more acute. The amount of population growth due to interstate movement of residents isn’t likely to ever be regulated, nor is the factor of natural population growth (more births than deaths), and that leaves the only possibility of limiting immigration – which is a discretionary policy – as a means to reduce the pressure on the water resource.

About Author


Jack, who joined FAIR’s National Board of Advisors in 2017, is a retired U.S. diplomat with consular experience. He has testified before the U.S. Congress, U.S. Civil Rights Commission, and U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform and has authored studies of immigration issues. His national and international print, TV, and talk radio experience is extensive (including in Spanish).


  1. avatar

    I live North. You, “Just move North!” people are either intellectually dishonest or insane.

    Oh yeah, great thinking. “Let’s just keep letting the whole world move here. No problem. If water gets to scarce, everyone can just ‘move North.'” Great idea…

    • avatar

      It is not a great idea dummy…..it is the only way to survive and if it happens you will be the only intellectually dishonest, insane turkey,,,hanging.living in the drought…………

  2. avatar
    Barbara Griffith on

    When i lived in AZ 20 years ago you had to drill down at least 3000 feet or more before you hit water. I don’t know how far you have to drill now but it cost thousands of dollars and even worse if the water table drops below the end of your pipe, the cost of extending the water pipe.can run into big bucks. I’m sure glad i don’t live there anymore. The old saying in that state was 4 people moved into the state and 3 moved out. They might be smart to move north i know i did.

  3. avatar

    As severe as this drought is, it’s been proven by scientists that worse droughts, lasting for many decades, have occurred in the last thousand years. And yet Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and John McCain, who are from those states, are on record by their votes in favor of at least doubling our already high legal immigration. And the voters keep reelecting them. Because the answer when these things are pointed out is that it’s racist to even bring it up.

    A lot of people say it’s no problem, we will just do reverse osmosis of sea water. The problem with that is:
    1] It’s much more expensive to process than fresh water sources.
    2] It’s even more expensive to build the infrastructure to move it from the sea to hundreds of miles inland.
    3] The brine end product is environmentally damaging when put back in the ocean.

    But apparently, it’s too politically incorrect to admit that we cannot keep allowing in as many people as we do, and the population increases it’s causing, thirty million per decade. You cannot be an environmentalist and support our present high levels of immigration, much less the increased levels proposed.