With $5 million in funding from NOAA’s Climate Adaptation Partners (CAP) initiative, the California Nevada Adaptation Program (CNAP), a collaborative initiative between UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the DRI in Reno, Nevada will work to expand climate research and focus on building adaptation strategies. The program will last five years and aim to empower local communities to use this knowledge to make informed decisions in the face of long-term drought, unprecedented wildfires, and extreme heat impacting public health.
A state board tasked with vetting water supply augmentation proposals for Arizona on Tuesday passed a nonbinding resolution in support of a potentially massive seawater desalination plant in Mexico’s Sea of Cortez. A partnership led by Israeli desalination specialists IDE Technologies pitched the multibillion-dollar plan to the Water Infrastructure Finance Authority of Arizona’s board, saying it could replace or complement declining Colorado River water that flows through the Central Arizona Project’s canal. The plant would remove salt from seawater and pump it north into the canal, where it would flow through Maricopa, Pinal and Pima counties.
As California is preparing for their fourth year of drought, the Bureau of Reclamation warns Central Valley Project water contractors of lessened water allocations. Two months after the start of the new water year on Oct. 1, the Shasta Reservoir, the state’s largest reservoir and cornerstone of the Central Valley Project (CVP), is currently at 31% capacity.
The speeches at the Colorado River summit in Las Vegas last week ranged all the way from pessimistic to panicked. Ted Cooke, the outgoing director of the Central Arizona Project, summed it up: “(T)here’s a real possibility of an effective dead pool“ at Lake Mead, making it impossible to release water through Hoover Dam for downstream delivery to Arizona and California.
Key questions resurfaced Thursday at a conference of Colorado River water administrators and users from seven U.S. states, Native American tribes and Mexico who are served by the shrinking river stricken by drought and climate change. Who will bear the brunt of more water supply cuts, and how quickly?
Arizona is preparing to enter for the first time into a Tier 2A shortage for the lower Colorado River basin, with cuts beginning at the start of the new year. For the state, this means a reduction of 21% of Arizona’s Colorado river supply and about 9% of the state’s total water use, according to the Central Arizona Project. Cities that use the Colorado river will see a 3% reduction while tribal supplies will be reduced by 7%. And for the users of CAP water, there will no longer be excess water and agriculture pools from the Colorado River.
Tucson Water is offering to leave “significant volumes” of its annual Central Arizona Project water supply in the Colorado River for the next three years in return for financial compensation from the federal government. But its letter to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation making that offer didn’t propose a cut to the city’s annual CAP allocation.