Friday August 19, 2022

Colorado Politics

Tuesday’s announcement by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation that it would require Arizona and Nevada to reduce their annual allocation of water from the Colorado River came as no surprise to most water experts. 

The reductions announced by Reclamation Commissioner Camille Touton have been part of a long-standing agreement, known as the interim guidelines, since 2007.

The Colorado River supplies water to 40 million people in two countries, seven states, 29 federally recognized Indian tribes, and 4 million acres of farmland. But its ability to provide that water faces a serious challenge following 22 years of drought and a drier climate that reduced its annual flow from 16.4 million acre-feet (MAF) to around 14.5 MAF on average since 2000.

Actions by the states – they could have banked surplus water in its two reservoirs during the good years but didn’t, and they drained reservoirs in the bad years – left Lake Powell and Lake Mead dropping to critical low levels, according to experts.  

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