WASHINGTON, Oct. 9, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The severe and protracted drought gripping much of the United States is an act of God. The severity of the impact caused by the drought is a consequence of neglect and short-sighted policy decisions made by humans over many years, finds a new report from the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), Running Dry: Looming Water Shortages in the United States.
Americans have dramatically reduced their consumption of water over the past 40 years. Per capita water consumption has declined by 42 percent since 1975. However, between 1970 and 2010, U.S. population increased by more than 50 percent, from 203 million to 309 million, driven by a massive wave of immigration. As a result of rapid population growth, overall water consumption in the U.S. remains at unsustainable levels.
"This summer's drought reminds us, yet again, that our failure to consider the impact of population growth on our environment and our natural resource base presents a looming crisis of our own making," warned Dan Stein, president of FAIR. "Looking ahead, the picture is even bleaker. If we maintain immigration at current levels, our population will grow by another 117 million by mid-century, with immigrants and their U.S.-born descendants accounting for more than 80 percent of that growth."
Much of the population growth in the U.S. over the past 40 years has occurred in arid and semi-arid regions of the West and Southwest. These areas have also experienced some of the largest growth of the foreign-born population.
"To quench the needs of a rapidly growing population, we are drawing down rivers and lakes, and depleting aquifers faster than nature can replenish them. Yet even as federal and local governments wrestle with water resource issues, they consistently refuse to consider the one factor over which they have the greatest control: the size of the U.S. population," Stein noted. "Population in the U.S. is not a natural phenomenon today. It is almost entirely a direct result of immigration, which is a policy that is completely within our power to control."
Running Dry: Looming Water Shortages in the United States makes clear that immigration driven population growth is not the only factor contributing to the nation's looming water crisis. Failure to maintain and expand critical infrastructure to treat and deliver potable water efficiently to a growing population is a critical part of the problem. In addition, the report notes that while Americans have become significantly more conservation minded about water and other resources, there are still many areas where wasteful practices, especially in agriculture, can and should be curbed.
"In almost every respect we have been making immigration policies without any consideration for their economic, social and environmental consequences. Our looming water crisis cannot be solved by a good soaking rain. It can only be solved by a political leadership that is willing to acknowledge that immigration-driven population cannot be sustained at current levels without potentially catastrophic consequences. This summer's drought was a wake-up call that we ignore at our own peril," concluded Stein.
The full report, Running Dry: Looming Water Shortages in the United States, can be found on FAIR's website.
The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) is a national, nonprofit, public-interest, membership organization of concerned citizens who share a common belief that our nation's immigration policies must be reformed to serve the national interest.
Visit FAIR's website at www.fairus.org.