Research Paper - Geography 1840 Chris Muckle 14122628...

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Geography 1840 Chris Muckle 14122628 5/2/11 Human Impact On The Southwest’s Natural Environment Since the discovery of an abundance gold during the late 1840’s there has been an unprecedented growth in population in the southwestern United States, namely in southern California and Arizona. The cities of Los Angeles, San Diego, and Phoenix have seen urban growth that makes the immigration booms in New York back in the 1800’s look miniscule. Between 1920 and 2000, the population of Los Angeles alone grew from just over three hundred thousand to somewhere around sixteen million people. With a tremendous population growth such as this, it made it very difficult for the people of the region to find the essentials to live, since this region is mostly dry and even desertous in some areas. In this case, essentials to live would be food and water. In order to have a sustainable amount of both food and water that can be replenished annually, the environment needs to be altered in such a way that these needs can be met. To do this, the people of southern California, specifically Los Angeles, tapped into various water sources in the area. The first source tapped was the Los Angeles River, however, it can only support up to about 250,000 people due to a low annual output of around 226 cubic feet per second (ft 3 /s), which translates to about 165,000 acre feet (af) per year. Studies show that the current population of Los Angeles uses around 860,000 af of water annually (Glen Canyon Institute). In 1990 a study was done to show how much water was consumed per household in different cities in southern California. Los Angeles was shown to have the
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highest water consumption with around 106,000 gallons used per year. The total water used by the entire region, was about 130,000,000 gallons or 405 af per household (LA Times). However, in order to supply the growing cities with this water, natural streams and rivers need to be dammed and reservoirs must be made to help direct the water through aqueducts. Prime examples of aqueducts being constructed to supply Los Angeles with it much needed water are the Los Angeles and Colorado River Aqueducts. It was built in 1928, shortly after the Colorado River Compact was put in effect. Since the Colorado River Compact, 1922, allotted a steady supply to the states in both its northern basin and southern basin, which included California, Arizona, and Nevada. After the compact, dams such as the Hoover Dam and the Glen Canyon Dam were built. Their reservoirs, Lake Mead and Lake Powell, respectively, brought an annual flow of about 1.2 million acre feet (maf) annually down the Colorado River Aqueduct. The Los Angeles Aqueduct was formed to bring water from the Owens River in the nearby Sierra Nevada Mountains to the city of Los Angeles. The annual flow of the aqueduct is around 560 ft 3 /s or 405,690 af. With all of these different water sources coming into Los Angeles County, widespread agricultural cultivation became possible. By the year 2000, somewhere in the area of ninety-six million acres of farmland
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Research Paper - Geography 1840 Chris Muckle 14122628...

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