Chance of water shortages increasing, Colorado River models indicate

Local News

In this July 20, 2014 file photo, a bathtub ring of light minerals shows the high water line near Hoover Dam on Lake Mead at the Lake Mead National Recreation Area in Nevada. (AP Photo/John Locher,File)

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Runoff in the Colorado River Basin dropped to 55% of normal levels, adding to the likelihood of shortages within five years, according to the US Bureau of Reclamation.

Colorado River Simulation System models project continued drought and an increased chance of potential water shortages by 2025.

“Projections indicate an increase by as much as 12 percent in the chance of Lake Powell and Lake Mead falling to critically low reservoir levels by 2025 as compared with the projections released this spring,” the agency said in a Tuesday news release.

“The chance of a Lower Basin shortage determination increased by as much as 20 percent through 2025, assuming a dry hydrologic future similar to what the Basin has experienced over the past 2 decades. These increases put the chances of reaching critically lower levels near 20 percent and a Lower Basin shortage near 80 percent by 2025.

Experts say we are in the 21st year of a drought. If that doesn’t change over the next five years, it will likely trigger contingencies that are already in place under agreements reached last year. Water districts and states collaborated on the plans that were signed in May 2019.

The “bathtub ring” at Lake Mead shows just how far the lake level has dropped — about 130 feet — since the drought started.

Results from the CRSS models are released three times a year, and are used to make decisions about the water sources that supply growing populations in the Southwest United States.

In addition to drinking water, managers also factor in the generation of electric power, and the water levels needed to continue hydroelectric production.

Efforts to develop agreements between states have reduced the chance that one state might draw more water than the agreements provide.

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