The stress test is coming for states like Arizona as water levels likely to dip below 1075 feet in June. The mega-drought in the American west means water restrictions are looming in the next few months.
Climate change has arrived in the Colorado basin much as it has in most places on Earth. The consequences may become quite severe, take care of each other, and for Gawd’s sake, pay attention. You may need to flee your home much sooner than previously expected.
The federal government is likely to issue its first-ever official shortage prompting cuts for water in Nevada and Arizona cities and for agriculture.
Lake Mead 3D clip from Earth Timelapse video downloads
Lake Mead’s recent contractions are concerning because the body supplies water to 25 million people across Arizona, Nevada, California, and Mexico. Built in 1936, the Hoover Dam and the attached reservoir have shaped the geography of the West, making life in Las Vegas and Los Angeles possible.
As the lake level has dropped, states have so far managed to avoid reaching the point where mandatory water restrictions kick in, but it looks like they are coming soon.
The Bureau of Reclamation keeps tabs on the lake by measuring its height at Hoover Dam. There, the water level is currently at 1,081 feet, and the Bureau projects it will drop below 1,075 feet as soon as June. After it crosses that threshold, the federal government will declare an official water shortage. Under a Drought Contingency Plan agreed upon by the affected states in 2019, some states will start to see big cuts in how much water they receive from Lake Mead starting in 2022.
Based on the pecking order from past negotiations, Arizona will have the biggest reductions in allocation from Lake Mead while California won’t face restrictions until the reservoir drops below 1,045 feet. The agreement dictates that Arizona will have one-third of its water supply from the reservoir cut, Ian James reported for AZ Central. Farmers will be among the most impacted, according to the state’s drought plan, but they will be allowed to use groundwater resources to compensate to some extent.
As a result of the preemptive drought planning, states have already prepared for the inevitable point when they will have to endure such cuts, said Koebele. “The basin has become increasingly collaborative over time, and people are thinking about it as, ‘It’s not if this happens, it’s when it happens and how do we best handle it.’”
Generally speaking, she said, cities will be relatively unaffected by any cuts for now, whereas farms, which consume the vast majority of the basin’s water, will have to start investing in technologies like drip irrigation to become more efficient.
The heating of the earth from fossil fuel consumption will become more intense and frequent. The western states are not flying blind, they have been preparing themselves for this very worrisome outlook. Hug your loved ones even tighter and take care of yourselves.
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Water is life.