“On April 10th, 61 percent of the lower 48 states were listed by the U.S. Drought Monitor to be in abnormally dry or drought conditions. And the Southwest, which largely relies on ice melt into the Colorado River Basin from the Rocky Mountains and previous years’ melt stored in the Lake Powell and Lake Mead reservoirs for its water supply, is poised for a dry, hot summer, because those areas received less than 70 percent of the average snowfall according to the USDA National Water & Climate Center.
These reservoirs are already at only 64 percent capacity following a decade-long drought from 2000 to 2010. And the possibility of more drought years to come is raising concerns over how to manage a river of which every drop (and then some) is now allocated to some use.
Drought, however, may be only one factor in the drying up of the Colorado River Basin. To assess the vulnerabilities of the watershed and consider how water supply and demand might change in the coming years, the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation has embarked on a study of the Colorado River Basin to be released this July. An interim report shows that current water use outstrips the supply and projected demand for water could be greater than the projected supply by more than 3.5 million acre-feet within 50 years, particularly when the effects of climate change are included.”
Read more: National Geographic