There are two major water basins in the American Southwest, the Rio Grande and the Colorado. The Rio Grande flows southeast from the Rocky Mountains, and the Colorado flows generally southwest from these peaks. The Colorado River Basin is expected to experience significant water shortages in the coming decades; we have chosen it as the focus of our work.
THE COLORADO RIVER
THE WESTERN U.S. (GALLAGHER, 2017)
Drought in the Colorado River Basin
The water storage capacity of the Basin, primarily at Lake Mead and Lake Powell is 60 million acre-feet (maf) of water, about four times the historical average annual water supply (“inflow”) to the region.
Colorado River Named Nation’s Most Endangered Waterway
Study: Colorado River Drying Up Faster Than Previously Thought
• “Las Vegas and other southern Nevada communities draw up to 90% of their water from the Colorado.”
• In general, California would need to cut back less than most of Arizona, due to an agreement reached between the states in 1968.
• Highly agricultural Yuma would lose little of its large allocation of river water.
• “Research shows that a cut of just 4% in certain agricultural areas could increase the water supply by 50% for some cities,” according to Robert Glennon, a professor of law at the University of Arizona.
Colorado River Basin Salinity Control Program
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