Southwest states given more time to agree on water cuts to prevent largest reservoirs from reaching critically low levels |

Southwest states given more time to agree on water cuts to prevent largest reservoirs from reaching critically low levels

Chris Outcalt
The Colorado Sun
This Bureau of Reclamation sign lists the statistics of Blue Mesa Reservoir, the largest of the three reservoirs that make up the Aspinall Unit on the Gunnison River. Emergency releasesfrom the reservoir have impacted late summer lake recreation.
Heather Sackett/Aspen Journalism

Federal officials Tuesday gave more time to Colorado and its neighboring states to agree on the massive cuts in Colorado River use needed to protect the country’s two largest reservoirs, even as they announced that historic cuts were coming to parts of the Southwest.   

Officials said that Lake Mead, east of Las Vegas, would operate in its first-ever “level 2a shortage condition” in 2023, triggering previously agreed upon reductions in water use in Arizona, Nevada and Mexico. California does not take cuts under this shortage level.

In Arizona, the cuts amount to 592,000 acre-feet, or 21% of the state’s annual apportionment. In Nevada, the cuts will be 92,000 acre-feet, or about 8%. And Mexico will take a 7% or 104,000 acre-foot hit.  

Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Camille Touton said during a Tuesday call with reporters that the federal government would continue to work with the seven Colorado River Basin states to find consensus on new water cuts in response to federal officials identifying the need for 2 million to 4 million acre-feet in water savings needed next year. Officials identified those cuts as necessary to protect critical infrastructure at Lake Powell and Lake Mead as well as hydropower production.

Read the full story via The Colorado Sun.

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