Federal officials on Monday announced a water shortage on the Colorado River for the first time, leading to mandatory water supply cuts for the river’s lower basin and several western states in Mexico in 2022.
The reduction was announced when a major 20-year drought in the West brought water levels to a record low in Lake Mead, America’s largest reservoir. The lake, fed by the Colorado River, serves about 25 million people in the three western states and Mexico.
Sitting at 35% capacity, the lake is at its lowest level since being filled in the 1930s, according to the US Bureau of Reclamation.
“This year, we’re seeing the combined effects of below-average snowpack, warmer temperatures and drier-than-average soil conditions, and unfortunately this trend may continue,” said Tanya Trujillo, Assistant Secretary of the Interior for the Department of Water and Science. Is.” A news briefing.
Trujillo attributed climate change to “unprecedented” environmental changes. According to a recent United Nations report, global warming could irreversibly worsen many of the effects of climate change, leading to more intense heat waves and longer droughts.
Water cuts will take effect for Arizona, Nevada and Mexico in 2022, so the water and energy demands of communities coming from the lake will continue to be met. California, the second state that supplies Lake Mead, is not affected by the first round of cuts.
Farmers in Arizona are expecting a particularly tough cut, losing about 18% of its annual Colorado River allocation to the state. Nevada has lost about 7%, Mexico 5%.
The cut represents 613,000 acre-feet of water in total. For perspective, one acre-foot can meet the water needs of one to two homes for an entire year.
Lake Powell, the second largest reservoir on the Colorado River, has also experienced declining water levels in recent years, which may eventually result in depletion in Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming, which supply the states.