ALarger Question: Is there too little water in the Northwest - referring here mainly to the drier parts of the region? Conflict over water use and supply has been rising steadily. Are we about to hit a wall?
The Larger Picture answer seems to be: We're hitting a wall on water only to the extent that we continue to use the way we do. Somewhere upwards of four-fifths of the region's water, for example, goes to irrigated agriculture; change our agricultural practices, take a little desert land out of cultivation, and water supplies soon look a lot more adequate.
So, the story today about water rights held by Washington State University at Pullman. The university has won a decision, being sharply contested by critics, on its water use. The decision only gives WSU the right to use as much water as it is already using (from a critical regional aquifer which, by some reports, is in decline). But significance is that the university has been finding efficiencies in many of its water uses, and the permission has to do with tripling the water it uses to keep its golf course green.
So what do we use our water for? That may be the key upcoming question.