‘We’re looking at a very significant chance of declaring a shortage in the Colorado River basin in 2016’ — Michael Connor #ColoradoRiver


From the Associated Press via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:

Top water decision-makers from seven Western states plan to join conservation groups and Indian tribes in San Diego on Tuesday to begin devising rules for squeezing every usable drop from the overtaxed Colorado River. The work meeting hosted by federal water managers will occur amid dire predictions for the waterway. The Interior secretary five months ago issued a call to arms and declared that the river, described as the most plumbed and regulated in the world, would be unable to meet demands of a growing regional population during the next 50 years. “We’re looking at a very significant chance of declaring a shortage in the Colorado River basin in 2016,” Michael Connor, commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation, said.

“We really need to get to specifics, technical liabilities and the political feasibility of projects,” he said.

Connor heads the federal agency responsible for what he called the most litigated and fought-over resource in the country. He said data project 2013 will be the fourth-driest year in the Colorado River basin during the past 100 years. Last year was the fifth-driest year on record…

Anne Castle, assistant Interior secretary for water and science, called the conference at a U.S. Geological Survey office near San Diego International Airport the start of a “next steps” process. Castle said she hopes more ideas and practical solutions will surface to deal with shortages predicted by a study released by the bureau in December.

From the Los Angeles Times (Tony Perry):

Last year was dry; this year is even worse, officials said. If the trend continues, Lake Powell and Lake Mead, the Colorado River’s two giant reservoirs, will be at 45% capacity by year’s end, their lowest since 1968. Shortage looms. “Hydrologically, we’re not going in the right direction,” Michael Connor, commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation, said in advance of Tuesday’s meeting…

An official from the Imperial Irrigation District, the largest user of Colorado River in the nation, has agreed to serve as co-chair of the agriculture committee, along with a professor and a Bureau of Reclamation official. But that does not signal that the district, which is already selling water to San Diego in the largest sale of farm water in the nation, is eager to sell more water or see more acreage left fallow. Imperial district farmers are fallowing 36,000 acres, soon to increase to 40,000, in order to save enough water to sell to the San Diego County Water Authority and to replenish the imperiled Salton Sea. “I tell people: We gave at the office,” said Tina Shields, Colorado River resources manager for the irrigation district. “We like to farm. I don’t think anybody down here is going to volunteer for more transfers” [sales].

More Colorado River Basin coverage here and here.

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