The lake is a major supplier of water to the Klamath Tribes and home to the endangered and culturally significant sucker fish. Non-native farmers in the area also depend on the lake, which is used irrigate over 130,000 acres of fields.
When drought struck the region this year, those farmers lost their water allocation. The situation has grown tense, with some farmers threatening to use force to take water from the lake.
"Irrigated agriculture has been developed unchecked," said Don Gentry, chairman of the Klamath Tribes. "The water was overpromised to folks by the federal government and we need to look at sustainability ... there isn't enough water to go around."
As for more unconventional approaches, one standout it Israel.
It invested about $500 million in the world's largest desalination plant, which satisfies 20% of the country's municipal water demand, according to one of the companies that built the plant.
Still, it's not enough. The Israeli government recently warned that the water crisis is so severe that by next summer it may struggle to provide its residents with enough water to meet their basic needs.
Two cities that found solutions
Historically, as a city grew, so did its water consumption — the Romans, for example, built aqueducts to support their rapidly growing population.
That pattern has proved unsustainable. Ultimately, conservation depends on reducing per capita water consumption so that cities and economies can grow while the overall need for water plateaus or declines.
Some cities have already achieved that.