Click the link to read the article on the Nevada Independent website (Daniel Rothberg). Here’s an excerpt:
The ongoing drought and climatic conditions facing much of the West are “unprecedented,” said Camille Calimlim Touton, who leads the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the agency responsible for managing water infrastructure across the region. Touton told federal lawmakers on June 14 that Colorado River users must reduce diversions by a substantial amount: 2 to 4 million acre-feet. One acre-foot, alone, is a massive amount of water. It is enough water to fill one acre, about the size of a football field, to a depth of one foot. It is 325,851 gallons of water and weighs about 2.7 million pounds. Multiply that by two to four million, and that is how much water the states are being asked to conserve. For perspective, Nevada has the legal right to consume 300,000 acre-feet, about 1.8 percent of all the legal entitlements in the Colorado River system. Together, Arizona, Nevada and California used about 7 million acre-feet from the Colorado River last year.
The cutbacks are necessary, Touton explained, to stabilize Lake Powell and Lake Mead, the two largest reservoirs on the Colorado River. Over the past year, both reservoirs have hit record-low levels and have continued to drop. If they drop further, the West faces extreme risks in the production of hydroelectric power — which is shepherded across the region — and the deliveries of water downstream for millions of residents and farmers in the Southwest.
The size of the cutbacks is not necessarily a surprise. Nearly all of the state water officials and experts I’ve spoken to have crunched the numbers and come to a similar conclusion. But the speed at which the cuts must be made presents a challenging task for negotiators.