From KUNC (Luke Runyon) via Aspen Public Radio:
Key reservoirs along the Colorado River are collectively at their lowest point at the start of a new water year since the last one filled nearly 40 years ago.
As of Oct. 1 reservoirs that store the Colorado River’s water are at just under 47 percent of their capacity, according to recently released data from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. Put another way: Reservoirs that provide water to 40 million people and irrigate 5.5 million acres of farmland in the southwest are less than half full.
The previous low point for the river’s collective reservoir storage was recorded in 2004 after years of dry conditions within the southwestern watershed caused the combined storage to drop to 50 percent of capacity…
The combined storage figure takes into account the amount of water in ten of the river’s reservoirs, many built as part of the Colorado River Storage Project:
Fontenelle Reservoir, Wyoming Flaming Gorge Reservoir, Wyoming and Utah Blue Mesa Reservoir, Colorado Morrow Point Reservoir, Colorado Crystal Reservoir, Colorado Navajo Reservoir, New Mexico and Colorado Lake Powell, Utah and Arizona Lake Mead, Nevada and Arizona Lake Mohave, Nevada and Arizona Lake Havasu, California and Arizona
Dry weather and warm temperatures have reduced the amount of water flowing into these reservoirs. But the Colorado River is also overallocated, where more water has been promised to farmers and cities than actually exists in reality. Year-to-year demands for the river’s water consistently outstrip the supply.
Water managers throughout the seven states that rely on the river are currently trying to sell cities, farmers and tribal leaders on so-called drought contingency plans, which are meant to cajole water users to conserve more and fill the river’s reservoirs. Federal officials have given state leaders an end of year deadline to finish those plans.