This story was originally published by Inside Climate News and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.
Solar farms stretch out mile after mile along Interstate 10 around Palm Springs, creating one of the densest areas of solar development in North America in the heart of California’s Colorado Desert. But the area’s success in meeting the state and the nation’s renewable energy goals is running up against the Southwest’s biggest climate challenge: Having enough water.
Local wells in the area have gone dry since the construction of multiple utility-scale solar projects near Desert Center—threatening the only water source for hundreds of people and a handful of local businesses. Solar farms typically don’t use much water when operating, but during construction, the law requires developers to mitigate dust—which can spread health problems like Valley Fever. That requires water.
The projects are being built on public land overseen by the Department of Interior’s Bureau ... Read more