More water restrictions likely as California pledges to cut use of Colorado River supply
The state’s emergency was triggered when the water level in Lake Mead dropped below a critical point in September 2013, prompting a nearly three-month conservation period that officials said may lead to the rationing of supplies over the next few weeks.
Two days later, the Colorado River system’s highest and lowest flow was recorded, setting off a dramatic re-hashing of how the river system will handle the water that is now flowing into the lake.
A major portion of the water is being stored in Lake Powell, but the state of Nevada has agreed to release up to 120,000 acre-feet of water into the river for conservation purposes, and the river will release the remainder through Sept. 17 (the remainder of June and July’s flow).
Officials at the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) said, as water levels fell in Lake Mead, the drop in water levels in Lake Powell also dropped, which resulted in the release of water into the Colorado River system.
In this case, the Colorado River system’s most serious threat is a shortage of water at Lake Mead. (Photo: California Department of Water Resources)
The water available in Lake Powell, which is part of the Colorado River system, will be used to provide more than a billion gallons of water for the state and its residents on a daily basis.
The current situation will be a challenge for the people of California, some communities are already experiencing water rationing because of a drought condition and the state will need to use its allocation from Lake Powell to provide water to the Central Valley agricultural sector.
As the water in Lake Powell drops and enters the Colorado River system, the system will use up a significant portion of Lake Powell and the water will be forced into the lower Colorado River Basin.
The use of Lake Powell’s water is seen as one of the most severe long-term options for the federal government to address the water shortage. However, the DWR may be forced to ration certain water allocations in the Colorado River system in order to prevent the risk of a shortage in Lake Mead, or the risk of Lake Mead’s supplies getting depleted, especially if the lake levels drop below 200 feet below the surface.
Officials at California’s Department of Water Resources said the state is currently taking a series of preventative actions to prepare its