Seven states that rely on the Colorado River are facing unprecedented reductions to water use amid what is expected to be the most consequential week for official policy affecting the river in years.
Deadline looms for western states to cut Colorado River use
Banks along parts of the Colorado River where water once streamed are now just caked mud and rock as climate change makes the Western US hotter and drier.
More than two decades of drought have done little to deter the region from diverting more water than flows through it, depleting key reservoirs to levels that now jeopardize water delivery and hydropower production.
Cities and farms in seven US states are bracing for cuts this week as officials stare down a deadline to propose unprecedented reductions to their use of the water, setting up what is expected to be the most consequential week for Colorado River policy in years.
The US Bureau of Reclamation in June told the states – Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming – to determine how to use at least 15 per cent less water next year, or have restrictions imposed on them.