Paradigm shift in western water


In September 2021, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation released their latest Water Supply Projections for the Colorado River System. The projections, which follow the first-ever Tier 1 shortage declaration for the Colorado River, indicate a high likelihood that water levels in Lake Powell and Lake Mead could reach critically low levels as early as next year, signaling a paradigm shift in hydrology and expectations for the future. Without urgent action, there is a greater than 30% chance that Lake Powell could fall to thresholds that threaten hydropower generation and a 22% probability that storage levels at Lake Mead could trigger a Tier 3 shortage as early as 2023.

Other US river basins are facing a similar fate, including the Rio Grande and Klamath River.

With growing evidence of a water supply paradigm shift in the West, it is clear that we must innovate to do more with less water.  Business for Water Stewardship (BWS) remains focused on leveraging our partnerships with companies to catalyze solutions.

We are taking steps to invest in and prepare for the future. Our business partners are already leading innovative, impactful and critical solutions, including:

  • System conservation to bolster reservoir levels
  • Irrigation modernization to improve efficiency and keep rivers flowing
  • Groundwater management to strengthen aquifers
  • Tribal projects to increase water access and equity
  • Promoting smarter water policy to create resilience

BWS and its diverse partners across the drought-stricken West are the vanguard. Corporate leadership and action remain a critical part of the solution, and we and our partners will continue to leverage corporate leadership to drive positive change.

Key Example 

Business For Water Stewardship has helped facilitate over $4 million in corporate and philanthropic funding to increase water supply reliability for Arizona, Nevada, and California through a system conservation project with the Colorado River Indian Tribes (CRIT). Learn more about our facilitation of corporate support for the CRIT project here.