It all ends in a Nevada mud puddle: Lake Mead, the Colorado River and #drought — Colorado Independent #ColoradoRiver

From the Colorado Independent (John Tomasic):

In case you missed it: The terrifying evaporating mud puddle that was once Lake Mead outside of Las Vegas is a flashing warning sign – long coming and mostly ignored – that the human relationship to water in the American Southwest has got to change, pretty much immediately.

Lake Mead is fed by the Colorado River, a water source for 40 million people. And with shrinking snowpack in the Rockies, the water levels in the river are dropping. Same with Lake Mead, a major water source for California, Arizona and Nevada.

“The lake is ebbing as though a plug has been pulled from a bathtub drain; its shoreline forming a soap ring around its edges, a ring that will only grow in the dry summer months. The water is already so low that boat launch ramps need to be extended to reach the water. ‘It’s a surreal landscape out there,’” reports the LA Times.

Californians are panicked.

Some water watchdogs in Colorado are getting jittery, too. Colorado relies heavily on water from the river that shares its name. Colorado and other upper basin states are required to deliver a certain amount of water to the lower basin each year to keep reservoirs at levels required under federal compacts.

If supplies keep waning, water users (all of us) in states across the region will feel the pain.

From The Arizona Daily Star (Tony Davis):

The federal government ratcheted up its risk estimates for Central Arizona Project shortages on Wednesday.

The odds of a shortage in water deliveries to Arizona and other Lower Colorado River Basin states in 2016 are now 33 percent, up from 21 percent as predicted in January, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation said.

By 2017, the odds rise to 75 percent, compared to a January prediction of 54 percent.

The bureau raised the odds of shortages three days after Lake Mead on the Colorado River hit another record low level — the third time that’s happened since 2010.

Snowpack levels in the Colorado River’s Upper Basin are significantly lower now than in January, which reduces runoff into the river and into Lake Powell, which releases water to Lake Mead at the Nevada border. Water for the CAP canal system is stored in Lake Mead…

“This isn’t a crisis for Arizona, but it’s really a signal that all users in the basin need to address the long-term imbalance between supply and demand,” said Chuck Cullom, CAP’s Colorado River program manager.

More Colorado River Basin coverage here.

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