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What A Water Shortage Declaration Means For You

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The Colorado River, which supplies water to millions of people in the Western United States and Mexico, is projected to shrink to lows never seen before. These new low water levels may trigger the first-ever shortage declaration that affects agriculture and municipalities in Arizona and Nevada significantly.

What Is The Cause For The Low Levels

States in the Western U.S. have been facing a megadrought for years. California has been on and off the drought cycle for years.  Recently a drought was declared in 2006 that lasted until 2010. It was officially over, only to be declared again in 2011. That drought ran until 2017, when it was declared over only to be declared again in 2018, which continues to this day. California and the West have been in drought for the last 16 years. Lack of monsoon rains last year combined with spotty snowfall this winter make the problem worse.  In addition, with the soil so dry coming into the snow season, the melting snow is quickly absorbed by the soil. This, combined with increasing average daily temperatures, makes a significant negative impact on the water cycle.

Who Feels The Pain

Because of the seven Western states (Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming, Arizona, California, and Nevada) 2019 agreement to conserve Colorado River water Arizona and Nevada will be the first to feel the pain.  Arizona stands to lose roughly 18% of its supply. This will impact Central Arizona Project’s customers. The C.A.P. is a 336-mile system of aqueducts and power plants extending from Lake Havasu to Tucson. Farmers and ranchers in this area are on notice the continuing drought means substantial water cuts next year.  This can result in fewer crops grown and higher prices for everyone. Everyone feels the pain of drought, but some more than others.

Electricity will feel the pain too. Less water moving through dams means less power generated from water. This is particularly hurtful because hydroelectric power is less expensive than electricity sold at electricity markets.  In Nevada, for the communities supporting hydroelectric power, their pain will be more than most.

California is experiencing severe, extreme, or exceptional drought in 85% of the state. Last month state water resources director Karla Nemeth reduced projected water deliveries to 5% of the requested demand. Not a 5% reduction, but a 5% of request.  Central Valley growers could benefit from a drought emergency, gaining water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. However, with a recall election looming, Governor Newsom will likely consider the political outcomes of his decision when making decisions.

What Can We Do To Help

 Please keep conserving. All of us together make a difference. If you need some ideas of how to conserve water, here is a link to 100 simple ways to save water.  Support legislation promoting water conservation and motivating the purchase of water-conserving products. For example, today, you receive a rebate for purchasing smart controllers for your properties in many water districts. This stimulates the use of technology for water conservation. You can do lots more, and we would like to hear your suggestions in the comments. Let us know how you are making a difference.

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Comments

  • Michael Underwood ,

    Have you ever driven through the city of Phoenix early morning hours and see all the water running down the roads from broken sprinklers, they waste a lot of water by not having smart controllers. Controllers are still running in the winter, it should be mandatory all cities and commercial be on Smart controllers.

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