Real Estate with Anessa Cohen

We have a tendency to forget that while we are always on the lookout for situations where we might have to watch out for flooding or an overabundance of rain in a given year, there are other parts of the country that have been going through the opposite experiences which we deal with here—major droughts.

I have been hearing for years already about the drought situation out west, in particular in California, and the others on the other side of the continental divide. I would think that they need to come to terms with a situation of a major lack of water sources while they are at the same time encouraging more development. I would read about it, roll my eyes, and then forget about it until the next article in the newspaper or on the news brought it up again.

History buffs may have read about the wagon trains going West after the Civil War to places with multitudes of farmland, rivers, and endless sources of water supply. There was promise of lots of water in an area where at least 50–65% of those areas were dry land if not desert conditions. It was a 19th century marketing ploy to get folks to move out West and stake out the land and develop it. Yet even back then the water availability from the rivers flowing to the seven odd states over the divide was only plentiful if a low percentage of people moved out there and developed the land. Those water sources were never the amounts we are used to seeing here in the Northeast with our many rivers and lakes and plentiful rains all year long.

This week, lo and behold, a new saga has begun in the water wars out West. Farming and development continue to grow at unsupportable rates for the water sources needed for those already living there—forget about those moving in, building, developing, and bringing in more population growth.

Back in 1922, California, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and Wyoming negotiated what was then called the Colorado River Compact. Agreements were made about the allotments that would be allowed for each state to pull their water usage from the Colorado River, which runs along these states. Even prior to drought times when the River produced much more water than it does today, none of those states were able to realize enough water for usage and then future development of their individual states without looking to acquire water sources from other areas.

Although it was completely obvious that water would be something that would be fought over for years to come, if not forever, these states continued to build and develop. They pushed the idea of figuring out how to balance their water resources to the future—a future that was given no date until now, nearly 100 years later, and years into drought conditions and major drops of flow in the Colorado River. Now they all find themselves in a situation of lower water sources than ever. The states in that original Colorado River Compact agreement fight over who is entitled to take more or less of the shares of water that were allotted back in 1922 from a river that just does not produce the water flows today that existed back in 1922.

The water reserves in the Colorado River are approaching critical levels to such a degree that this could also threaten the great Hoover Dam which depends on the flows of water in the Colorado River basin to produce electricity for major swathes of the western states there. Dealing with this is so critical at this stage and the states involved seem not to be able to come to any agreement, so the Federal government gave them a deadline to either come to an agreement with each other on a solid direction for dealing with this situation in a constructive manner or the Federal government will step in and make these decisions for them and order them to follow whatever outcome is decided by them.

This is the first time in the last 100 years that the Federal government, which does not typically get in the middle of agreements created by the states, has decided they must intercede in order to protect the water sources of the Colorado River before the River gets so low that it is at the point of no return. As such, the states were given a January 31, 2023 deadline as things stand now to produce a plan or else the Federal government will create a plan of their own making and mandate its use.

In the interim, all of the states involved continue to fight with each other and entrench themselves in illogical stances of not budging. I am sure we will hear lots more about all of this in the near future and find it fascinating to see how far this will go between those states and the Federal government. Who is going to blink first? 

Anessa Cohen lives in Cedarhurst and is a licensed real-estate broker (Anessa V Cohen Realty) and licensed N.Y.S. mortgage originator with over 20 years of experience offering full-service residential, commercial, and management real-estate services as well as mortgage services. She can be reached at 516-569-5007 or via her website, Readers are encouraged to send questions or comments to Read more of Anessa Cohen’s articles at


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