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As Colorado River Reservoirs Drop, Western States Urged to ‘Act Now’

With the Colorado River’s depleted reservoirs continuing to drop to new lows, the federal government has taken the unprecedented step of telling the seven Western states that rely on the river to find ways of drastically cutting the amount of water they take in the next two months.

The Interior Department is seeking the emergency cuts to reduce the risks of Lake Mead and Lake Powell, the country’s two largest reservoirs, declining to dangerously low levels next year.

A Project Looking to Move Water From Utah to Colorado’s Front Range Gets New Funding, Partner

The way the story goes, the one Fort Collins resident Aaron Million first told more than a decade ago, the whole thing started with one of those ah-ha moments, a split-second grasp of some sliver of grand opportunity.

Million, who in the mid-2000s, was pursuing a master’s degree in agriculture and resource economics at Colorado State University, was holed up in the library on a Sunday night. At some point, Million’s attention wandered to a collection of early 1900s Colorado state maps. Million fixated on a 41-mile stretch of the Green River that briefly swerves in and out of the Northwest corner of the state.

Amid Severe Drought, Former Interior Secretary Calls for Revamping Colorado River Pact

One hundred years after a landmark agreement divided the waters of the Colorado River among Western states, the pact is now showing its age as a hotter and drier climate has shrunk the river.

The flow of the Colorado has declined nearly 20% since 2000. Reservoirs have dropped to record low levels.