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Image: Adrille (edit by Aqwis) via Wikimedia Commons
By Amy Lupica, ODP Staff Writer
For the first time in history, the federal government has declared a water shortage on the Colorado River after drought pushed the Lake Mead reservoir to all-time lows. The declaration triggers mandatory water consumption cuts for several Southwestern states. The reservoir and the Colorado river supply drinking water to over 40 million people. As drought becomes a permanent fixture across the Southwest, experts and officials are preparing not for temporary cuts but a long haul of water use regulation.
The Bureau of Reclamation within the Interior Department declared the shortage as it released a 24-month outlook for the Colorado River. The prognosis: by the end of 2021, Lake Mead will be at only 34% capacity, lower than it’s been since the reservoir was filled in the 1930s. In response, the government will institute Tier 1 cuts to lower basin states, including California, Nevada, and Arizona, but may institute cuts to the upper basin as the situation continues. These cuts are a part of a contingency plan developed and approved by California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado, and Wyoming, along with input from Indigenous communities and Mexican officials.
Kevin Moran of the Environmental Defense Fund is calling on Congress to pass President Biden’s $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill, which includes billions of dollars of funding that could be critical to preserving the West’s water resources. The funding would help restore and protect natural infrastructure, including forests, watersheds, and underground aquifers. “Our water infrastructure is not just man-made reservoirs and treatment plants,” said Moran. “It’s the natural system, too.”
By Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer For decades, uranium mining has contaminated the Navajo Nation, causing higher cancer rates and water pollution. Even though the health risks and environmental harms of uranium mining are well-established, new operations continue to move forward. One local group, the Eastern Navajo Diné Against Uranium Mining (ENDAUM) hasn’t found a […]
By Natasha Lasky, ODP Staff Writer California Governor Gavin Newsom announced that he would extend the drought emergency statewide and issued an executive order to have residents conserve water. As part of this effort, eight new counties were added to the state of emergency, and authorized the State Water Resources Control Board was authorized to […]
By Elizabeth Love, ODP Contributing Writer Authorities in the Canadian Arctic territory Nunavut, announced a state of emergency this week due to a possible contamination event affecting the City of Iqaluit’s water supply. Tests were performed after residents reported the smell of gasoline coming from their tap water, but they came back clean. However, […]
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