Flash floods hit the western United States

The federal government announced Tuesday that some US states and Mexico must reduce their water use to avoid “catastrophic” effects on the Colorado River. The region is undergoing an episode of historic drought.

After more than two decades of below-normal rainfall, the river’s size — essential to the American West — is alarming. Drought cycles are exacerbated by human-induced climate change.

Despite years of warnings, states that rely on the river have failed to reduce their water needs enough, leading federal officials to impose restrictions on Tuesday.

“To avoid catastrophic collapse of the Colorado River system and a future of uncertainty and conflict, water use in the basin must be reduced,” said Tanya Trujillo, an official with the Federal Resources Agency.

21% less for Arizona

Arizona will receive 21% less in 2023, Nevada 8% less, and Mexico 7% less, where Colorado ends its run. California, the largest user of the river’s water and the most populous US state, will not be affected next year.

The Colorado River rises in the Rocky Mountains and flows through Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Nevada, California, and northern Mexico before emptying into the ocean.

It is fed mainly by snow, which accumulates at high altitudes in winter and gradually melts in the warmer months.

Millions of people

But under the effect of climate change, precipitation decreases, snow melts faster, and loses some of its resources, which provide water for tens of thousands of people and many farms.

Deputy Minister Tommy Beaudreau said the Interior Ministry, which manages natural resources in particular, was doing everything in its power to “protect water” and ensure “adequate assistance” was provided to all those affected.

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“The severe drought affecting the Colorado River watershed is caused by the effects of climate change, including extreme heat and reduced rainfall,” he said.

Worst episode in 1000 years

The American West is experiencing its 23rd year of drought, the most severe episode in more than 1,000 years. This dry environment facilitates the spread of increasingly destructive wildfires.

Local measures are also being taken in cities served by the Colorado River, such as Los Angeles, which, for example, have unpopular restrictions on outdoor irrigation.

This article was published automatically. Sources: ats / afp

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