In Today's Issue: Historic Drought Leads to Water Wars in the West

The following story appeared in the [post_published] issue of The Daily Juice. The text is from the 9th-10th grade version. To access the other grade levels, interactive vocabulary (words in bold), quiz questions, and more, sign up for The Juice.

A historic drought in the West is leading to major water crises along the Oregon-California border and for the Colorado River system that supplies water to more than 40 million people in seven Western states and Mexico.

Farmers are even threatening violence at Upper Klamath Lake, Oregon’s largest. They are facing financial ruin after federal officials shut down dam gates that allow water to flow from the lake. Farmers have relied on that water to irrigate their fields since 1907. Some are threatening to breach the fence that surrounds the dam and force open the gates.

Federal officials took action because the lake’s level is so low that salmon have been dying en masse. The survival of all the lake’s fish is endangered.

The Klamath Tribes support the federal move because they want the lake’s waters and fish protected. In 1864, the Klamath Tribes signed a treaty surrendering 22 million acres to the US in exchange for a reservation on the lake and perpetual rights to fish there.

In neighboring Nevada, the water levels at Lake Mead and Lake Powell have also dropped drastically. The two main reservoirs on the Colorado River are barely over one third capacity.

The government forecasts that water levels will continue to decline. That could lead to the first-ever shortage declaration for the Colorado River. Millions of people could see their water deliveries cut next year.

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US Politics (Grades 11-12)

Biden Executive Orders Will Reverse Trump Policies

President-elect Joe Biden plans to sign a flurry of executive orders soon after his inauguration tomorrow. He plans to address what he’s calling the four crises facing the country. They are COVID-19, the economic downturn, racial injustice, and climate change.

An executive order is a written directive from the president carrying powers similar to a federal law. Presidents have historically used these orders to push policies forward quickly because they do not require approval from Congress. The downside of executive orders is that they are easily overturned by any new president. That is not true for federal laws.

Among other moves overturning Trump administration policies, Biden’s orders will return the US to the Paris Climate Accord and to the Iran nuclear deal.

Related to the pandemic, Biden will require face masks on federal properties and during interstate travel. Other orders will be aimed at safely reopening schools and businesses.

On immigration, Biden will order agencies to determine how to reunite children separated from their families after crossing the US-Mexico border. Another order will end travel restrictions targeting majority-Muslim countries.

Other orders will address “equity and support communities of color,” criminal justice reform, and access to healthcare.

Photo from Reuters.

Bold words are interactive vocab words in The Juice.

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