The US authorities for the first time ever has imposed a water usage limit for Mexico and some Western US states like Arizona and Nevada after these states failed to follow the directions to reduce their water usage by up to 15 percent.
These states were unable to come to a conclusion because of which the authorities intervened and water allocation for Arizona was reduced by 21 percent in 2023, Nevada by 8 percent and Mexico by 7 percent.
Although, the state of California, which is the most populous state and also the biggest user of Colorado’s water, will not be affected by this decision. The unequal imposition of the US Federal judgement has created a row between the water sharing states that may lead to a state of conflict.
The area of Colorado has been a major victim of climate change from the past 23 years that has resulted in the drying up of the major river sources that connect the basin. Millions of people in America are dependent on these rivers for their daily drinking needs and also it is a major source of supply for acres of farmland.
It is estimated that the river could lose between 14-31% of its flow by 2050 and also some scientists claim that with every 1.8 degree rise in temperature the river’s average flow might drop by about 9%.
The major reservoirs of the Colorado basin like Lake Powell and Lake Mead are suffering from a low water storage capacity where Lake Powell is at 26% while Lake Mead is at 27% with a combined storage of about 28%.
These reservoirs are also likely to lose their production of hydroelectric capacity that can heavily impact the economy of the states in their neighboring areas. The popular US cities of Las Vegas, Phoenix and South California might also come under the impact of huge water crisis as these cities majorly meet their daily water demands from Lake Mead, which has seen a major water decline of about 130 feet
The Colorado River, one of the longest rivers of the US originates from the Rocky mountains and flows through the states of Colorado, Utah , California, Nevada, Arizona and northern Mexico, before emptying into the Gulf of California.
The snowfed mountain that is the source for the Colorado river is melting slowly in the warmer months. Although due to less precipitation, less snow is falling and we are witnessing a faster melting of existing snow.
Witnessing the major water crisis in the western states of US and a drying up like situation of the Colorado basin, the US authorities are strictly observing the issue and taking stern measures on the states to cut down on their water usage.
The US Bureau of Reclamation has stated that it would continue to work with the affected states and tribes to sustainably manage the Colorado basin. President Joe Biden’s Bipartisan infrastructure Law has made a historic investment of $8.3 billion to address the water and drought challenges faced by their western states in the US.
The recently passed Inflation Reduction Act, 2022 includes a $4 billion investment for conserving and managing the Colorado river basin.