Despite Wet Weather, the West is Not Out of the Weeds Yet

Much of the West has been in drought conditions for the last decade, including a 16 year drought in the Colorado River basin states.  The massive amounts of snow and rain this winter across the Rockies and the Sierra have given us all a bit of reprieve from the worst of the dire forecasts of shortages being declared in the Colorado River system due to low water levels in Lake Mead.  A month or two ago, there was a 66% chance of that happening in the next year, but the Bureau of Reclamation, the federal agency responsible for overseeing Colorado River allocations, recently revised its numbers: now there is a 33% chance of a shortage occurring.  This seems to give us all a bit of breathing room, or does it?

While the drought has certainly been top of mind in recent years, especially in California, we are still grappling with the so called “structural deficit” in the Colorado River basin.  This means that there is more water being allocated from the Colorado River than is available, regardless of the weather situation.  Despite recent weather, we still need to work collaboratively to advance long term policies and programs that help us squeeze every drop of water from the sources we do have, and to reduce our water footprints.

For more information on the structural deficit, click here. Join us in advancing smart water policies and principles by signing the BWS endorsement statement and connecting with the Change the Course campaign.  We are not out of the weeds yet, but with your help, we can be on our way!