COLORADO — The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is demanding more water cuts for states in the Southwest that draw water from the Colorado River. This comes as the water supply for the Colorado River and its reservoirs, Lake Mead and Lake Powell, hit all-time lows.
The federal government announced water cuts for Arizona by 21%, Nevada by 8%, and Mexico, as the river will operate in a Tier 2 shortage condition. Plans for a basin-wide plan to divide water rights were not reached by the Upper and Lower Basins on deadline. That gives the federal government authority to create a unilateral plan on water rights for the seven basin states.
Colorado will not see water cuts immediately, but Alex Funk, director of water resources for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership says the announcement today is a warning for Colorado about future cuts.
"I would say no one's really going to be potentially immune from the outcome of this system crashing and so that's why we're kind of hoping to see a basin-wide sort of sector, cross-sector, approach to everyone kind of hopefully contributing to this problem," he said.
Colorado Springs has one of the most intricate water systems in the state, bringing water in from over 100 miles away. With 25 reservoirs around the state, the city has about 2.9 years of water demand in storage, according to Colorado Springs Utilities.
"That acts as a little bit of a buffer against future restrictions. However, it's not a long-term solution," said Jennifer Jordan, spokesperson for Colorado Springs Utilities.
With the uncertain future of the Colorado River, Jordan said the city is planning for the worst-case scenario.
"This means more diversification in our water supply so that we can ensure a reliable water system for our community now and in the future," she said.
For example, furthering its water sharing with farmers in the Arkansas river basin, addressing the need to add 15,000-25,000 acre-feet of water supply outlined in its Integrated Water Resource Plan (IWRP).
There is no timeline for when additional water cuts will be announced. News5 will keep you updated as more information comes along.
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