Drought: Access to Colorado River water may be limited


Access to Colorado River water may be restricted

Washington can impose restrictions on the use of the Colorado River that seven states cannot accept.


According to a study released in 2020 by the US Geological Survey (USGS), the Colorado’s runoff has declined an average of 20% over the past century.


The Biden administration said on Tuesday it was considering stricter restrictions on the use of water from the shrinking Colorado River after negotiations between several US states stalled. Nearly a quarter-century of drought, climate change and increasing water demands have reduced the once-flowing river to alarming levels.

Due to this, the reservoirs and hydroelectric dams in its course are under threat. The river provides water for about 40 million people from the Rocky Mountains to the Gulf of California in Mexico, and irrigates millions of acres of farmland to feed the United States.

Despite multiple deadlines, seven US states are unable to agree on their consumption levels. Objective: To prevent the river from reaching a critical point when the distribution pipes of the massive Hoover Dam are above water level and stop flowing.

“No one is immune”

The federal agency responsible for managing water resources said Tuesday it could impose mandatory cuts. Consumption by downstream users of Lake Mead (California, Nevada and Arizona) will be regulated in the same way.

Such a decision would upend a system that for more than a century has regulated the allocation of water from the river based on a seniority criterion that has favored California farmers. “Everybody understands the scale of the crisis,” said Tommy Beaudreau, the deputy interior secretary responsible for managing federal lands in the United States, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The official pointed out that the above-normal rainfall in the American West this winter is a boon for the river and will relieve some pressure, not a permanent solution. Despite this rain, “no one is safe,” he said, calling for “unity” to solve the problem.


The federal agency’s proposal presents the river with two other options: to limit consumption by respecting the age criteria, or…do nothing. The first solution would leave farmers in California virtually exempt from any regulation. Later users in the water supply network have to pay higher prices.

Two southwestern states, Nevada and Arizona, will be particularly hard hit. The Arizona metropolis of Phoenix has almost no drinking water. “We’re not going to let that happen,” Tommy Beaudreau told the “New York Times.”

But the violation of existing river regulations, which impose percentage cuts on all users, could lead to lawsuits from California farmers. For decades, they have used the river’s water to transform the near-desert landscape into one of America’s orchards.

20% drop

Connected to Hoover Dam, Lake Mead last summer reached its lowest level since 1937 when a metal barrel containing the body of a man killed in the 1980s was found on dry shores.

According to a study published in 2020 by the United States Geological Survey (USGS), Colorado’s runoff has declined an average of 20% over the past century, and at least half of this decline can be attributed to the decline. area. Last year, federal officials got seven western states to agree to cut their consumption by a maximum of 40% of the river’s flow.

Six states proposed that most of the restrictions be imposed in California, which disagreed with the plan, then issued a counter-proposal that suggested the cuts would come mostly from overhead.

(AFP)Show comments

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