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News of the Arroyo


Drought Fosters Water Alliance Between States





November 11, 2016 - KQED reports that states in the Southwest are working together behind the scenes on ways to meet the long-term water supply challenges on the Colorado River by sharing water.


Sara Jerome



The drought in the Southwest — where long-term water supply challenges are looming — has officials in several states looking to share water.

Arizona, Nevada, and California are looking to work together, according to KQED. “The states are hammering out a voluntary agreement to cut their water use — an approach some consider revolutionary after so many decades of fighting and lawsuits,” the report said.

“Arizona and Nevada are considering deeper water cuts, if California agrees to cuts amounting to somewhere between five and eight percent of its supply. The three states have years of bad blood among them over the [Colorado River]. Most disagreements have been settled with lawsuits,” the report said.

The agreement, and drought politics in general, could mean an end to “business as usual” on the Colorado River, the report said.

Jeffrey Kightlinger, manager of the Metropolitan Water District (MWD), a powerhouse California water wholesaler, explained how crucial the Colorado River is to his state. A quarter of MWD’s water supply comes from the river.

“It’s been the reliable source of water for us,” he said, per KQED. “We’ve been getting hardly anything from Northern California.”

Other states are also considering ways to shore up their water supplies amid dependency on the Colorado River.

“In Colorado, Denver Water is in the final stages of seeking approval on a water storage project that would take more water out of the Colorado River. Wyoming is researching whether to store more water from the Green River, a Colorado tributary,” the report said.

“Utah is discussing whether to build a pipeline to transport water from Lake Powell, the reservoir found up river from Lake Mead along the Utah-Arizona border,” it continued.

Drought is not the only factor affecting the Colorado River.

“There’s also something called the ‘structural deficit.’ This water-wonkish phrase is used by Colorado River experts to describe the fact that more is expected of the river than it can possibly deliver,” Mountain Town News reported.

Officials tend to examine the health of Lake Mead, situated between Arizona and Nevada, as an omen for water supply issues in the west.

“The water level in the country’s largest manmade reservoir has been plummeting,” KQED reported. “Lake Mead could drop so low in 2017, an unprecedented shortage could be declared.”

The lake is now 38 percent full, according to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

Image credit: " Havasu_Falls_Havasupai_Nation_Arizona," STAN ACUFF © 2011, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license:




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