8 charts and maps show why drought will be a growing challenge in the U.S.

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Courtesy of Courtesy of Ensia

The American West continues to struggle with an historic, years-long drought, with the latest area to be hit — the Pacific Northwest — garnering recent headlines. But is drought in the United States all that unusual?

A report from The Hamilton Project released in late 2014 examines the history of drought across the U.S. and the economics of water in the country.

As the report states, “Water supply is further challenged by increased climate variability, which directly impacts the reliability of water supply and calls into question the adequacy of our nation’s water infrastructure, much of which was designed to accommodate climatic projections that are increasingly obsolete.”

These eight charts and maps from the report illustrate how water scarcity is, and will continue to be, a growing concern across the U.S. as more and more people migrate west.

Charts, maps and data compiled by The Hamilton Project, an economic policy initiative at the Brookings Institution, and presented in the report titled In Times of Drought: Nine Economic Facts about Water in the United States. Primary data sources listed on each individual chart and map.

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