Aug 17, 2022
Severe drought threatens to dry up the Colorado River Basin. So, on Tuesday the US government put historic water-use restrictions in place. Two southwestern states and Mexico are affected.
Restrictions were increased to "Tier 2." It's the first time that's ever happened. The new restrictions go into effect in January. Arizona, Nevada, and Mexico will have to use even less water than they do now. Since 1944, Mexico has had a treaty with the US. It allows them to use water from the Colorado River.
Arizona faces the deepest cut. Its yearly allotment of water from the river will drop 21%. Nevada must cut water use by 8%. Mexico has to cut water use by 7%. California is spared from the 2023 declaration for now. That could change if the water levels at Lake Mead reach 1,045 feet above sea level or lower by January. Lake Mead is a reservoir on the Colorado River.
Lake Mead is projected to come close to that mark. The Bureau of Reclamation predicts it will reach 1,048 above sea level by 2023. The bureau estimates that Lake Powell, another lake, will fall to 3,522 feet. Both are within several dozen feet of “dead pool” status. That's a point at which there won’t be enough water to power their dams. This could result in a loss of power for millions of customers.
“In order to avoid a catastrophic collapse of the Colorado River System and a future of uncertainty and conflict, water use in the Basin must be reduced,” said one official.
Officials say a lack of rain and snow in the area in the past year has made the problem worse.
Photo from Reuters.
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