New push to shore up shrinking Colorado River could reduce water flow to California by 20%
A new push to shore up shrinking Colorado River could reduce water flow to California by 20%
As the world’s largest source of freshwater, the Colorado River system is critical to the livelihood of hundreds of millions of people. Now, the Trump Administration is moving to shore up a shrinking river that has been cut in half over the last 60 years due to the failure of water storage reservoirs.
During the past three decades, water supplies to California have been cut in half from the reservoir levels that existed in the early 1960s. By 2030, the water flow could be reduced by 20% if the reservoirs in California and New Mexico are not expanded to their full capacity. As the only source of water for the two states, the importance of the long-term flow of the Colorado River is clear. The decision to shrink the reservoirs and cut back the flow, and who will pay the consequences, is now up to the two neighboring states of Arizona and New Mexico.
The new plan
After years of negotiations and court battles, the Trump Administration recently completed its plan to expand the Arizona/New Mexico Colorado River Storage Complex for a combined total of 1,000 billion cubic feet of storage.
While the amount of storage that will be allocated to the Arizona-New Mexico storage is less than that requested by the state, the water storage allocation is enough to ensure that there will be enough water to last the needs of the two states until 2050.
The plan allocates an additional 150 billion cubic feet of storage in the system for the Arizona-New Mexico storage complex.
In addition, the plan proposes an additional 150 billion cubic feet for conservation in the system by building new water storage infrastructure with additional water storage in the system.
The plan aims to achieve a water storage level of 1,000 billion cubic feet, including both total system storage in Arizona and New Mexico (including Arizona-New Mexico storage) and the overall estimated storage that will be saved in the system.
In order to meet the goals of the new plan, the Arizona and New Mexico water department will need to build additional water storage in the system.
But for the next 10 years, the plan is designed to reduce net flow of water from the Colorado River to the two states. For example, if total Colorado River water flow to Arizona is equal to what Arizona gets when it gets water from the Colorado River,