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Scientists See Silver Lining in Fed’s Efforts at Lake Powell

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced last week that it plans to adjust management protocols for the Colorado River in early 2022 to reduce monthly releases from Lake Powell in an effort to keep the reservoir from dropping farther below 2021′s historic lows.

As of Jan. 6, the nation’s second-largest reservoir — part of a Colorado River system that provides drinking water to approximately 40 million people throughout the West — sat at an elevation of 3,536 feet, the Spectrum reported.

Dropping Reservoirs Create ‘Green Light’ for Sustainability on Colorado River

Some Colorado River scholars say that a plan by the lower-basin states to leave more water in Lake Mead embodies a principle they explore in a recently published article: Dropping reservoir levels have opened a window of opportunity for water-management policies that move the river system toward sustainability.

In December, water managers from California, Nevada and Arizona signed a memorandum of understanding, or MOU, to spend up to $200 million to add 500,000 acre-feet of water in both 2022 and 2023 to Lake Mead, the nation’s largest reservoir, which has dropped precipitously low due to climate change and drought.

As the Colorado River Shrinks, Can the Basin Find an Equitable Solution in Sharing the River’s Waters?

Impacts from climate change and two decades of drought on the Colorado River are fueling fears that states in the Upper Basin – Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming – could be forced to curtail their own water use to fulfill obligations under the century-old Colorado River Compact to send a certain amount of water downstream to the Lower Basin states of California, Arizona and Nevada.

There has never been a so-called “Compact call” on the river. But as evidence grows that the river isn’t yielding the water assumed by the 1922 Colorado River Compact, questions arise about whether a Compact call may be coming, or whether the states and water interests, drawing on decades of sometimes difficult collaboration, can avert a river war that ends up in court.

As the Colorado River Shrinks, Can New Technology Save Water on Farms? The Answer Is Complicated

On a warm November day in Yuma, Arizona, the desert sun is beating down on a sea of low, green fields. Here, near the banks of the Colorado River, Matt McGuire is surveying an expanse of vegetables that sprawls into the desert landscape.

“You find it on the grocery shelf and it’s a leafy green,” he said, “it probably came from here. Because about 80-85% of the vegetables in the wintertime come from this area.”

Phoenix Among Those Voluntarily Losing Colorado River Water

The city of Phoenix this week outlined how it will voluntarily contribute water to a regional plan to shore up the country’s largest reservoir that delivers Colorado River water to three states and Mexico.

The river cannot provide seven Western states the water they were promised a century ago because of less snow, warmer temperatures and water lost to evaporation. Water managers repeatedly have had to pivot to develop plans to sustain it for the long-term.

Phoenix, the nation’s fifth-largest city, is among entities in the river’s lower basin that are part of the “500+ Plan” meant to delay further mandatory shortages. All pieces of the plan haven’t been finalized, but farmers and Native American tribes are expected to play a big role.

The Colorado River serves more than 40 million people in Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado, California, Wyoming, Utah and Mexico. Lake Mead and Lake Powell store the water and are used to gauge the river’s health.

The Western U.S. Might Be Seeing its Last Snowy Winters

When a fire started spreading quickly in Boulder County, Colorado, on December 30, destroying nearly 1,000 homes as residents fled, the ground was dry. This was unusual: Boulder typically gets around 30 inches of snow between September and December. But last year, it had only a total of 1.7 inches over the same period before heavier snow finally started falling on December 31—too late to save the neighborhoods that burned.

More Water Cuts AZ, NV, CA Try to Keep Lake Mead Levels Up

Arizona, California, and Nevada have agreed to further reduce their usage of Colorado River water over the next two years as the states figure out ways to prevent critically low water levels in Lake Mead.

The river accounts for 40% of Arizona’s water supply.

The states were already preparing for mandatory water cuts in 2022 resulting from the Tier 1 shortage federal declaration.

With Less Water on the Surface, How Long Can Arizona Rely on What’s Underground?

In Arizona, verdant fields of crops and a growing sprawl of suburban homes mean a sharp demand for water in the middle of the desert. Meeting that demand includes drawing from massive stores of water in underground aquifers. But some experts say they’re overtaxed, and shouldn’t be seen as a long-term solution for a region where the water supply is expected to shrink in the decades to come.

Anti-Government Conspiracies Create Another Challenge to Addressing Drought in the West

For more than a century, a system of government and legal agreements has largely resolved water disputes among those living in America’s most arid region of the country.

The methods of conflict resolution were at work in December when water bosses in California, Nevada and Arizona agreed to cut their use of Colorado River water to avoid penalties under a compact that divvies up the river among seven western states and Mexico.

In Pinal County, Colorado River Shortage is Forcing Growers to Plant Fewer Ccres

More than two decades of dry winters and drying Colorado River reservoirs will finally produce a long-feared landscape of drier farms in central Arizona starting this month.

Desert farmers, especially the 900 or more in Pinal County, start the new year with massively reduced allocations from the canal that delivers water hundreds of miles from the river.