"Groundwater and streams vital to both farmers and cities are drying up in the West, challenging the future of development."
"OAKLEY, Utah — The mountain spring that pioneers used to water their hayfields and now fills people’s taps flowed reliably into the old cowboy town of Oakley for decades. So when it dwindled to a trickle in this year’s scorching drought, officials took drastic action to preserve their water: They stopped building.
During the coronavirus pandemic, the real estate market in their 1,750-person city boomed as remote workers flocked in from the West Coast and second homeowners staked weekend ranches. But those newcomers need water — water that is vanishing as a megadrought dries up reservoirs and rivers across the West.
So this spring, Oakley, about an hour’s drive east of Salt Lake City, imposed a construction moratorium on new homes that would connect to the town’s water system. It is one of the first towns in the United States to purposely stall growth for want of water in a new era of megadroughts. But it could be a harbinger of things to come in a hotter, drier West."
Jack Healy and Sophie Kasakove report for the New York Times July 20, 2021.