Seven Southwestern U.S. states that depend on the overtaxed Colorado River for crop irrigation and drinking water are expected to ink a crucial share-the-pain contingency plan by the end of 2018.
They’re not going to make it — at least not in time for upcoming meetings in Las Vegas involving representatives from Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming and the U.S. government, officials say.
Colorado River water supports about 40 million people and millions of acres of farmland in the U.S. and Mexico.
After 19 years of drought and increasing demand, federal water managers project a 52 percent chance that the river’s biggest reservoir, Lake Mead behind Hoover Dam, will fall low enough to trigger cutbacks under agreements governing the system. If Lake Mead falls below the shortage declaration trigger point, California could face up to an 8 percent reduction in water supply.
Federal water managers wanted a deal to sign at the annual Colorado River Water Users Association conference beginning this Wednesday in Las Vegas. Officials say it’s unlikely they’re going to make it in time for the upcoming conference.
With files from the Associated Press.
Bill Hasencamp, manager of Colorado River Resources for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD)