Lesson 706 – Dry Times in the Southwest: The New Realities

Nowhere are the realities of climate change more sharply defined than in the American Southwest. Here rivers are drying, and reservoir levels have reached at all-time lows. Cities and countryside alike must adapt to drought, but the strategies use by municipalities are far different from those used by ranchers.

Learning Objective

Students will learn about the dire state the American Southwest is in and what it is being done to solve this issue.

Social Studies Standards

Individual, Groups, & Institutions:
B, C & F

Discussion Prompts

  • Drought, more people, agriculture, and warmer temperatures are some of the factors that impact the water availability in the southwest region. Talk about these factors and their effects, elaborating on how people might predict how to wisely balance water usage.
  • The water level at the Hoover Dam has dropped 140 feet. What are the implications of this drastic drop for the Southwest region of the United States? What can be done about it?
  • Arizona is considering importing water to fix the drought problem. What might be some of the ways that water can be imported if rivers in the region are drying? From where and how would the water get to Arizona?
  • Amy McCoy explained how important it is to understand people’s relationship with water. Discuss which daily activities waste water and what changes might help reverse water waste.

Lesson Activities

  • Professor Ty Ferré used several analogies to explain the dramatic water level situation in the American Southwest region. Create 5 analogies that might help your peers and others understand this grave situation.
  • You were tasked with determining which one of the two industries, agriculture or mining, would no longer operate in that region due the excessive water usage. Create a diagram illustrating, demonstrating, and justifying why your selection is the right choice.
  • According to the host, 90% of the stream habitat in the southwest has disappeared. Create a landscape design that shows the lost 90% of the stream habitat to help educate people about the importance of water waste.
  • You just learned that the place you buy your organic produce uses reclaimed water. You feel that reclaimed water irrigation practices should be disclosed to buyers of those products.
  • Create a campaign speech against misinformation and demanding the use of a label/seal disclosing that information on those products.


  • confront
  • discharge
  • drastic
  • evaporation
  • exhausted
  • holistic
  • perennial
  • reclaimed water
  • riparian
  • sewage


In the Americas Season 7 Lesson Episode 6