From Inkstain (John Fleck):
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s key August forecast, out today (pdf),projects that there will be enough water in the Colorado River system next year to release a bonus pulse of 770,000 acre feet of water from Lake Powell down to lake Mead above and beyond the legal requirements of the Colorado River Compact. But even with that extra water, Lake Mead is projected to fall another five feet during 2015, flirting with levels that could trigger the Lower Colorado River Basin’s first formal shortage declaration in 2016.
How could this be? The Lower Basin is getting extra water above and beyond its minimum legal entitlement, yet Lake Mead keeps dropping?
It’s simple, really. The U.S. Supreme Court’s 1963 Arizona v. California decision effectively allocates more paper water than there is wet water in the system, (click here for the wonky explanation of the mistake, and the fact that folks kinda knew at the time it was a mistake but ignored it) and as long as each of the Lower Basin states keeps using its full entitlement, Mead will keep dropping unless a giant climatic wet spell delivers magic extra water.
Meanwhile, here’s a photo gallery of the California drought from the Huffington Post. From the article:
With major wildfires burning six at a time, more than half of California now experiencing the most severe category of dryness and experts warning that even an El Niño year won’t be enough to redeem the west in 2015, residents of California and beyond must face the terrifying reality that the drought probably isn’t done breaking records — and it’s not something just farmers and firefighters have to face.
The Huffington Post asked readers to share photos through the hashtag #OurDroughtIsReal to show how the drought is affecting them in their own backyards, literally. Here are some of the heartbreaking photos and stories you shared. Tweet @HuffPostGreen or use the hashtag if you have your own photo to share.
More Colorado River Basin coverage here.