Leaders face severe shortages on the Colorado River

Arizona will have to learn to live with less water from the Colorado River.

That was the message from officials of the Central Arizona Project (CAP), which distributes water from the flowing river to users in Maricopa, Pinal and Pima counties, during a briefing on the Colorado River shortage on Friday.

The river accounts for 40% of Arizona’s water supply.

A twenty-two-year drought across the West, made worse by climate change, has caused historic shortages on the river and the lakes that store it.

Lake Powell sits on the Arizona-Utah border and is the river’s second largest reservoir. But its water level fell to within 30 feet of dead pool elevation. This is the point where water could no longer be released from the Glen Canyon Dam, which would also prevent its power generation. The dam’s generators produce electricity for parts of Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming and Nebraska.

RELATED: Water Crisis at Lake Powell in Arizona

“We have serious challenges, and we all need to be prepared to conserve more water and use less of it,” said Tom Buschatzke, director of the Arizona Department of Water Resources.

Earlier this week, the US Department of the Interior approved a plan proposed by the seven states that use the river to retain nearly one million acres of water in the lake, which it says will continue to generate electricity for the Next year.

But as less and less sleet from the Rocky Mountains reaches the river, states must quickly come up with mitigation strategies.

“The timeframe we have to react to these things is getting shorter and we’re maybe trying to avoid when the next shoe is going to drop,” Buschatzke said.

In the last six months alone:

But these are changes most of us won’t notice, for now, according to Sarah Porter of ASU’s Kyl Center for Water Policy.

“We will always have water coming out of our taps, but the cities have been very encouraged to start trying to get people in Phoenix to use less water. And especially to use less water at the outdoors,” she said.

If drought conditions continue as expected, Porter said cities will likely start using the water they’ve accumulated underground.

“If CAP deliveries were to be significantly reduced, cities would turn to these reserve supplies,” she said.

But with less river water available and very little rainfall, once that water is depleted there is currently no viable option to replace it all.

House Speaker Randy Bower said these supplies buy time to figure out how to get more water, not only for cities but also for agriculture which uses about 74% of the city’s water supply. the state.

“I think we have time, but we’re not going to dwell on that,” he said. “It’s time to move and move at a higher speed.”