CIJ Fellow Claire Provost: Drought Fears Over Proposed US Mega-Development

    The desolate southwestern US state of New Mexico spreads across an area larger than the United Kingdom. It has a population of just two million, a quarter of which is concentrated in its largest city, Albuquerque – a small metropolis dwarfed by its vast desert surroundings.

    Alongside the river - the Rio Grande - a lush ribbon of green runs from the north of the city through Albuquerque’s South Valley, where generations of farmers have been irrigating small parcels of land. Compared to the city or the drylands around it, this semi-rural slice of Albuquerque can feel a world unto itself, dotted with small ranches and family farms.

    However, proposals to build an entirely new city - Santolina, a bizarre mega-development backed by the British bank Barclays - in the middle of the desert, just west of Albuquerque and has got local residents deeply concerned that it will suck up desperately needed water amid warnings of a future megadrought.

    Bertha Fellow, Claire Provost asks: Why does Barclays want to build a city in the middle of the New Mexico desert?