In an April 29 online briefing that attracted over 700 viewers, the Director of the Arizona Department of Water Resources and the General Manager of the Central Arizona Project described the unprecedented, drought-driven challenges facing the Colorado River system and what Arizona is doing to address them.
On April 15, the operators of the Colorado River system – the Bureau of Reclamation – made clear what everyone familiar with the drought-stricken system has seen coming as the extraordinarily dry winter of 2020/21 has lingered on:
That by the end of 2021, water levels at the system’s Lake Mead reservoir likely will fall to a point that a “Tier 1” shortage declaration likely would be triggered for the 2022 deliveries of Colorado River water.
In several respects, the big environmental winner this year in the Southwest has been in the realm of water.
The Rocky Mountains snowpack last winter was deep and cold, resulting in an excellent runoff into the Colorado River system. Likewise, California largely shrugged off its terrible struggle with drought as wave after wave of “atmospheric rivers” delivered deep moisture to the Sierra Nevada.