From WyoFile (Angus Thuermer Jr.):
Wyoming’s water czar warned residents in the Green River drainage that an unprecedented 19-year drought could force regulators to shut off water diversions if users don’t voluntarily limit their use first.
The Colorado River basin reservoir system that supports 40 million persons and a $1.4 trillion economy is at risk of severe disruption, State Engineer Patrick Tyrrell told stakeholders last week in Baggs, Rock Springs and Pinedale. Tyrell unveiled draft agreements among seven western states that could lead to voluntary, instead of mandatory, reductions in water use when that time comes.
Demand management and associated programs, said Senior Assistant Attorney General Chris Brown, could conserve enough water on a voluntary basis “so I don’t have to go turn somebody off upstream.”
A demand-management program would be “an alternative to that hard regulation,” Tyrrell said, in which those with the most recent water rights would be curtailed first.
“We’re doing it so we maintain control of our own destiny,” Tyrrell said of the proposed agreements.
Although Colorado River system reservoirs can hold four years worth of runoff from Wyoming mountains and other ranges across the 250,000 square-mile basin, persistent drought has reduced lakes Powell and Mead to 42 and 38 percent of their respective capacities…
“Things are pretty dry,” Tyrrell told more than 40 persons in Rock Springs on Wednesday. August saw 2 percent of normal flow into Lake Powell, and September saw “well below” 1 percent of normal.