Home World U.S. states struggle to share dwindling waters of Colorado River

U.S. states struggle to share dwindling waters of Colorado River

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SEATTLE, Washington, Feb. 1 (Reuters) – The Colorado River, which supplies drinking water to 40 million people in seven U.S. states, has dried up, a water distribution agreement amid the worst drought in the 12th century exacerbated by climate change. is nervous.

California separated from six states on Tuesday: Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. The U.S. government faces the possibility of negotiating its own supply cuts or facing federally mandated cuts.

“What happened today was a step forward,” said Kevin Moran, a water policy expert at the Environmental Defense Fund.

“After two decades of drought and climate change, six of the seven basin states are catching up to reduce water use from the Colorado River,” Moran told Reuters. rice field.

When the state reached an agreement 100 years ago, it was assumed that the river could supply 20 million acre feet of water annually. One acre-foot (1,233 cubic meters) of water is generally considered sufficient to supply her two urban households for one year.

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But over the past 20 years, actual water volumes have shrunk to an average of 12.5 million acre feet, leaving state water managers with more rights on paper than existing supplies.

California has the largest quota, 80% of which is consumed by the $50 billion agricultural industry.

Many experts see the decision not to join the agreement as fueling the possibility that water disputes will end up in the country’s Supreme Court.

“Some California water rights holders said, ‘We don’t want to give up any more water. ’” said David Hayes, a lecturer at Stanford Law School.

Hayes, a former top frontrunner to President Joe Biden, added that “we don’t have enough time to litigate these issues.”

He recognized the need for drastic conservation efforts to protect reservoirs from drought exacerbated by overuse and climate change. Left unchecked, the situation could threaten supplies from the Hoover Dam to cities in Las Vegas or California.

California suffered seven weeks of heavy flooding in late December. atmospheric river Up to 30 inches (76 cm) of rain fell in some areas, but barely reached the Colorado River basin.

apart from prediction of With such atmospheric rivers increasing in size and frequency, California cannot solve the long-term crisis. without a big investment Harvest more rainwater, restore floodplains and recycle wastewater.

report Last year in Nature magazine The 22-year period from 2000 to 2021 was found to be the driest period in at least 1,200 years in southwestern North America.

“Something has to be given,” said Sharon Megdal, director of the University of Arizona Center for Water Resources Research.

As temperatures rise, mountain snow melts faster in the spring, leaving the state with less capacity to store runoff.

The letter, signed by six states, shows that all recognize the need for changes in operating procedures for the Colorado River and deliveries from there, she added.

“I think people want to believe that we can somehow find a way to sustain these economic activities and sustain an economy and lives like ours,” Megdal said.

“But it will be a drier future.”

Reported by Liliana Salgado and Temis Tormo. Written by Clarence Fernandez.Edited by Nick McPhee

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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