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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 Amy Lupica, ODP Daily Editor In another significant blow to the Pebble Mine project in Alaska, the EPA has asked a federal court to allow Clean Water Act protections for parts of Bristol Bay, a body of water that stands to be decimated if the project continues. Environmental advocates and Alaska Native tribes hope […]
By Natasha Lasky, ODP Staff Writer California’s record-breaking drought is not just a result of climate change — it’s also making climate change worse. According to a new study, population growth and energy-sapping water projects have driven up emissions and slowed down decarbonization campaigns. As it gets more and more difficult for Californians to rely […]
By Amy Lupica, ODP Daily Editor A federal judge has thrown out a Trump administration environmental rollback that scaled back federal protections for the nation’s streams, marshes, and wetlands. Despite support from farm and business groups, the federal judge ruled that the rollback could lead to “serious environmental harm.” Environmental groups are celebrating the decision, which will reinstate protections for […]
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