Colorado River Facing Unprecedented Challenges

Colorado River Facing Unprecedented Challenges

The headlines and coverage of the Colorado River are dramatic-  the Colorado River is facing shortages never before seen since its system reservoirs were built.

We came together for the Drought Contingency Plan in 2019

When businesses came together for the Drought Contingency Plan (DCP) in 2019, no one envisioned how extensive the water cuts would be, nor how quickly they would happen. It’s not yet clear exactly what these new and further cuts will mean for lower basin communities, businesses, and irrigators, or for the upper basin states. We know that this situation will not affect all states, cities, or water users equally. We anticipate growing scrutiny on water use and water policy, and the corporate voice and influence will be key to help the region do more with less water.

The current river situation is evolving 

The federal government is currently working with the Colorado River states to find basin-wide agreement to conserve enough water to secure the reservoirs in the system. It is estimated that 2-4 million acre feet of water will be needed to be conserved annually to maintain reservoir levels for water supply reliability and hydropower production. The states were given a deadline of August 16th by the federal government to come up with a plan for the annual savings, but that date has come and gone without any real progress.

So where does that leave us? 

We are watching all of these developments very closely and the corporate voice will continue to be critical for leaders to hear as decisions are made. If the federal government does have to step in and negotiate between the states we will make sure that they understand how critical it is to have a stabilized system for businesses across the west. For the stability and health of our economy, it is imperative that the reliability of the whole system is prioritized, and that the states and the federal government find solutions soon to mitigate deeper and harsher cuts across the basin. We will continue our work to urge leaders to prioritize bold actions that face our drought and water shortage reality, and make the sometimes hard decisions that are going to protect us in the long-term. Our future, businesses and livelihoods depend on it.

Colorado River shortages in the news 

ADWR Director And CAP General Manager Give Grim Assessment Of Colorado River Conditions, AZ Dept of Water Resources
100 years after the compact, Colorado River nearing crisis point, Associated Press
Feds declare first Colorado River shortage, order water cuts for 2022, NBC News

Read our July 2022 blog post on these issues for further detail, and stay tuned to this page for timely updates

CO River Hydrology Facts

Reservoir levels drastically low-September 2022

Lake Mead 23% full
Lake Powell 24% full

click image to enlarge 

Managing water during drought- some states will start to see cuts in 2023, with additional cuts to Lower Basin states expected.

Tier 2A cuts for 2023
Arizona- 21% less water
Nevada- 7% less water