Colorado river water shortage
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That was always an unrealistically large number. There’s kind of a seniority system which incentivizes, in some cases, farmers and others to waste water. One of those goals requires a certain amount of water to remain in the upper basin so that it reaches the lower basin. The federal government has resisted.
Colorado river water shortage
A buoy sits high and dry on cracked earth previously under the waters of Lake Mead, near Boulder City, Nev. But U. Observers warn that a reckoning is still coming for the growing region because the water crisis is colorado river water shortage to generate future cuts.
A look at the crucial source of water for the Western U. There are two Colorado Rivers in the U. The river that faces cuts is the longer one. Colorado river water shortage supplies seven states plus Mexico but its colorado river water shortage has dropped drastically over time because of water overuse by farming and growing populations, hotter temperatures, evaporation and less melting snow in the spring to replenish the river.
Cuts for are triggered when predicted water levels fall below a certain threshold — 1, feet meters above sea level. Additional cuts will be triggered when projected levels sink to 1, and 1, feet and meters.
At a certain point, levels could drop so low that water can no longer be pumped from the reservoir. Eventually, some city and industrial water users will be affected.
Water from three reservoirs in those states has been drained in recent years colorado river water shortage maintain water levels at Lake Powell and protect the electric grid powered by the Glen Canyon Dam.
Lake Mead and Lake Powell — the two largest Colorado River reservoirs — are about a quarter full, threatening water supplies and the generation of hydroelectric power that provides electricity to millions of people. Arizona, Nevada and California form the lower basin.
From its headwaters in Colorado, the river and its tributaries eventually flow south of the border into Mexico, which also uses its water. Among those who depend on the water are colorado river water shortage 30 federally recognized Native American tribes. Colorado river water shortage agreements determine how much water each entity gets, when cuts are triggered and the order in which the parties must sacrifice some of their supply.
Under a drought contingency plan, Colorado river water shortage, Nevada, California and Mexico agreed to give up shares of their water to maintain water levels at Lake Mead. Colorado river water shortage, Nevada and Mexico. Most residents will not feel the cuts thanks to water conservation, reuse and the state not using its full allocation.
California has been spared because it has more senior water rights than Arizona and Nevada. The water is used in cities and farming communities in northwestern Mexico, which is also enduring a severe drought.
Some farmers were compensated colorado river water shortage water through deals with cities like Phoenix and Tucson.
More farmers will likely need to leave their land fallow — which some farmers in the region have been paid to do by state agencies and others — and rely even more on groundwater. Others will be forced to grow more water-efficient crops such as durum wheat and guayule and find other ways to use less water. Western water suppliers have planned for such shortages by diversifying and conserving their water sources.
Lunch eat to in nc nc lunch to – asheville places asheville eat places in intensifying drought depleting reservoirs faster than scientists predicted — and the resulting cuts — will make it harder for farms and cities to plan for the future. That happened this year, too. The state does not use its full supply of Colorado River water and most water used indoors by businesses and homes in the populous southern part of the state is recovered, treated and delivered recycled back to Lake Mead.
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Lake Mead and Colorado River Basin Water Shortage: Causes, Effects, and Policy Solutions
Email required. More farmers will likely wqter to leave their land fallow — which some farmers in the region have been paid to do by state agencies and others — and rely even more on groundwater. Colorado river water shortage could virtually solve the West’s water crisis just by shifting, you know, away from that meat consumption. And, of адрес, states have enormous autonomy within the federal constitution. So the potential in those figures, as colorado river water shortage said, is the entire flow of the Sshortage River. But it’s a big, gaping loophole in the laws that govern how water is being used.
– The Colorado River water shortage is forcing tough choices in 7 states : NPR
Observers warn that a reckoning is still coming for the growing region because the water crisis is expected to generate future cuts. A look at the crucial source of water for the Western U.
There are two Colorado Rivers in the U. The river that faces cuts is the longer one. It supplies seven states plus Mexico but its flow has dropped drastically over time because of water overuse by farming and growing populations, hotter temperatures, evaporation and less melting snow in the spring to replenish the river.
Cuts for are triggered when predicted water levels fall below a certain threshold — 1, feet meters above sea level. Additional cuts will be triggered when projected levels sink to 1, and 1, feet and meters. Alfalfa is one of the most water-consuming crops you could possibly grow. We grow it across Colorado. We grow it across Arizona and parts of California. And the main use for alfalfa is to feed cattle.
And significant part of that feed for cattle isn’t even for American cattle, but it’s shipped overseas. It’s exported to China, or it’s exported to the Middle East. And it’s an example of extraordinary, you know, water use that goes to a very small segment, you know, of society and meets a – you know, a very small purpose.
There was also the issue, last time we spoke, of cotton being grown in Arizona, which, at the time, didn’t – there wasn’t a great market for it. It wasn’t a particularly lucrative crop. But there were farm subsidies from the federal government that made it almost mandatory to grow. And it uses a lot of water. That’s still happening? And the Farm Bill is essentially designed to support farmers.
And – you know, and it distributes money, you know, based on past practice for growing. In the West, a lot of those subsidies are sent to farmers that have historically grown things that happen to be very water-inefficient – so farmers who grow alfalfa and, in the example you’re describing that I reported on, farmers who grow cotton in the Arizona desert. And so what’s happened as a mechanism of that Farm Bill is that as the pressure to use less water, you know, has become more and more apparent and these farmers might have reconsidered what they grow, the Farm Bill steps in as – you know, as an incentive to continue growing the water-intensive crops, to keep that cotton growing.
Because the farmers that I talked to in central Arizona, for example – when they considered switching crops, they lose the historical production record, which entitles them to the subsidies. So it’s a long way of saying, you know, the net effect of many of the federal subsidies that we offer for the agricultural industry have the – you know, have the effect of maintaining the status quo at a very, you know, point in time when what’s desperately needed is to change the status quo and revisit, you know, the way – the crops that are grown and how much water those crops use.
DAVIES: You know, it’s interesting ’cause you’ve described your conversations with farmers and ranchers, many of whom understand that water is scarce and conservation is important. But, you know, they’re up against the hard economic realities of the lives that they live.
You know, I almost hesitate to ask why does the – why do these farm subsidies exist that seems so irrational? But, you know, when you look back historically, the United States developed westward, you know, to – not only to distribute land to people, but to create a food economy, you know, to create ranch land that could supply, you know, meat back to the eastern United States and growing cities in – you know, in the early s, for example.
And, you know, it’s created an ethos and a culture in the West. It is the agricultural, you know, heartland for the country. And it has always depended on the distribution of water and, to some extent, on subsidies, whether those subsidies were, you know, federal support for building the railways that transported their crops and cattle and meat back east or discounted water or, in this case, you know, the subsidies of the Farm Bill itself.
You know, so once the – you know, the establishment of that Western agricultural culture, you know, was cemented, then, you know, we – there’s always been pressure to support those communities, support the culture of farming in the West, and support the function that it serves in providing food for the rest of the country. And that’s where the Farm Bill comes in, you know, maybe with good intentions, but it’s an overwhelmingly large bureaucracy with some obvious faults as well.
Let me reintroduce you. We are speaking with Abrahm Lustgarten. He’s an investigative reporter focusing on the environment at ProPublica. We’ll continue our conversation in just a moment. Well, besides the water from the Colorado River, there is groundwater, which is tapped with wells in a lot of these states.
How does that source fit into this picture? So groundwater aquifers are an extremely important source of water across the West and – well, across the country and the world, for that matter. It’s a very complex relationship with the Colorado River in part because aquifers and rivers, including the Colorado, actually intersect, and so they exchange some water.
But in the West, in Colorado, all the water laws that we were talking about and the water rights handle these two sources of water as if they’re completely separate and independent. So that’s to say we’ve divided up who gets access to Colorado River, and it’s regulated separately from who can take water from underground aquifers. And in many places – most parts of rural Arizona, for example, and across the state of California – if you drill a well on your own property into an aquifer, you can take as much water as you’re able to suck out of that aquifer.
In some places, where those water supplies overlap, pulling groundwater can literally suck water out of the river that is unregulated. That’s probably a minority of cases. But it’s a big, gaping loophole in the laws that govern how water is being used. How has it been affected by the draining of the Colorado River? And some of that water goes to Los Angeles and also to the metro area around San Diego.
But the majority of it is used by the Imperial Irrigation District, which is an enormous farm district in the southern – southeast corner of California, where an incredible amount of the nation’s winter vegetables are grown. If you buy a package of carrots in New Jersey, you’ve most likely bought carrots that were grown in the Imperial Valley in California. So it’s been a coup historically for California to get access to this water, the result of really difficult negotiations in the past and then the building of extraordinary infrastructure – more canals, more pipelines – to bring that water farther west into California.
And then, because of California’s political might on the system, it has so far avoided, you know, many of the most severe cuts to Colorado River water usage. So you know, for example, the federal government declared, you know, a shortage officially about a year and a half ago.
And the states have agreed to a tiered system of voluntary cuts. So you know, California will – as things get worse, California will, by that agreement, have to offer up more water. But also, because they’ve been so far spared, the state’s really, you know, the next on the chopping block politically. And I think that’s where a lot of the tension in the current negotiations lie, the sense of unfairness across the region that California hasn’t yet had to feel the pain. DAVIES: You know, you mentioned one fact, that there is research that shows – this is kind of startling – that if Americans simply avoided eating meat one day a week, it could save water equivalent to the entire flow of the Colorado River each year.
It’s an incredible number. This was a calculation I did with the help of some European researchers back in when I was reporting on the Colorado River. But the overarching idea is widely accepted, which is that an incredible amount of the water goes to grow these crops that are used to feed cattle for meat, and that if the demand for meat is reduced, an enormous amount of water is saved.
So the potential in those figures, as you said, is the entire flow of the Colorado River. You could virtually solve the West’s water crisis just by shifting, you know, away from that meat consumption.
I think any – a lot of these issues involving land use are particularly thorny because, you know, political power is diffused, right? I mean, you’ve got counties and states and water authorities. And, of course, states have enormous autonomy within the federal constitution. Do we need a national water policy? And if you take a step back and you put aside for a moment, you know, those – the independent streak of the West and those separate state interests you mentioned, there’s a logical, you know, need for – there’s a logical argument for a national water policy.
I mean, what you have is, you know, a national system of food supply and distribution, not to mention an enormous chunk of – you know, of the whole country’s population that is entirely dependent on what’s happening with water in the West.
And at the same time, you have abundant water resources in other parts of the country and significant chunks of the economy in other parts of the country that depend on how well this entire system works. And there’s – you know, it really becomes kind of a classic model for the need for an overarching policy that can tie all of these, you know, various needs and interests together. I mean, some people I talked to talk about the creation of a climate czar or a national office of water policy.
That might be, you know, a way to have federal authority that isn’t just focused on, you know, Western water infrastructure, which is a lot of what the Department of Interior does, but can consider, you know, the – you know, equal distribution of resources in the Great Lakes, for example, or the rivers on the East Coast, or consider the broader implications for food supplies.
He’s an investigative reporter focusing on the environment and climate change at ProPublica. This type of irrigation exacerbates water losses, primarily through inefficient transportation methods. Dams also divert downstream flows, trap sediment and nutrients, and impair water quality — all of which threaten the riparian habitat of the Colorado River that is necessary for a stable ecosystem.
The Colorado River flows through 11 national parks and monuments, including the Grand Canyon and Zion National Park, all of which host a variety of unique ecosystems and support a robust tourism industry. The environmental aspects of dams and reservoirs in the Colorado River Basin have been largely ignored.
Indeed, the Colorado River Compact is a clear example of this, which appropriates water for human use only. But humans are not the only ones who use the water and rely on it for survival. Amidst a growing societal concern for the environment, federal and state governments will be facing pressure to consider solutions beyond traditional water management. Lake Powell, created by the Glen Canyon Dam, is also experiencing record low water levels. But Lake Powell is located upstream of Lake Mead and the Hoover Dam — meaning it receives a much larger percentage of the precipitation that subsequently feeds the entire Colorado River system.
Not surprisingly, more dams and diversions have been explored as potential long-term solutions. The Arizona State Legislature has even urged Congress to investigate the possibility of harvesting Mississippi River floodwaters to provide an additional source of water.
Increased reporting of water wastes, following seasonal water restrictions, and replacing unused grass with water smart landscapes are among the most widely utilised conservation measures. Indeed, Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak signed Assembly Bill in , which required the replacement of unused grass landscapes, or those landscapes that are covered with turf grass for solely aesthetic purposes, by the end of If you look at the lower Colorado River Basin, water use peaked in , and has been steadily declining.
The Imperial Irrigation District of California is the largest farm district and their use has dropped dramatically. Urban use has also been going down. Earlier this summer, the Bureau of Reclamation asked the seven states that depend on the river to cut an additional million acre-feet per year.
How much water is that and how disruptive will it be? Districts and states could figure out now how to come up with those million acre-feet, voluntarily, working from the bottom up.
Or the disruption is going to come within a year — or two or three — when the reservoirs are just freaking empty. Those are the two options. The lovely third option is we have a few years of monstrous snowpack [melting snow in the spring feeds the river]. The most important set of users is tribal communities who were promised water by the nation when we were busy stealing their land.
Even the language I use is problematic. So figuring out how to claw back some of that water for the environment is one of the really big challenges. I always punt on this question. For a solution to be effective, it has to emerge from the people who are using water themselves. What I can do is make clear the scope and the scale of the problem. Our goal this month.
How a year-old miscalculation drained the Colorado River. Reddit Pocket Flipboard Email. Help inform the future of Vox We want to get to know you better — and learn what your needs are.