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The water level in Lake Mead behind Hoover Dam in Feb. 2022. A new agreement among Arizona, California and Nevada offers a temporary fix to the region’s water issues.

State and federal officials are celebrating an agreement reached this week by Arizona, California and Nevada to reduce their use of Colorado River water by millions of gallons over the next three years - but it’s a temporary reprieve. Read more»

The Lower Basin Plan would result in greater protections for Lake Mead and Lake Powell than the alternatives analyzed in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement.

Arizona, California and Nevada have agreed on a plan to conserve 3 million acre-feet from the Colorado River over the next three years, and the Lower Basin Plan has the support from all seven Colorado River Basin States. Read more»

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation proposed three alternatives to supplement the 2007 environmental impact statement and interim guidelines, which govern operations along the Colorado River. The most severe cuts would hit tribal nations and agriculture users.

Following one of the wettest winters in recent history, Arizona officials anticipate a dry 2024 - as over the 23-year drought, the wettest years have always been followed by some of the driest - while federal water usage cuts loom. Read more»

A set of four tubes known as the 'river outlet works' allow extra water to flow through the Glen Canyon Dam. The flows are designed to take advantage of wet years and help wildlife habitats downstream.

An extra pulse of water was sent through the Grand Canyon, part of a Bureau of Reclamation “high-flow experiment” designed to redeposit sediment from Glen Canyon Dam in northern Arizona, and in response to above average spring snowmelt forecasts in the Rocky Mountains. Read more»

The familiar white 'bathtub rings' show dropping levels on Lake Mead. The reservoir’s stores have been falling for years, setting records for new all-time lows.

Cuts to water use along the Colorado River could be spread evenly across some Southwestern states, or follow the priority system that currently governs water management, as federal officials consider ways to keep hydropower generation going at the nation’s largest reservoirs. Read more»

The federal government has historically stayed out of Colorado River negotiations, but has expanded its role in recent years to protect its dams and reservoirs, such as Glen Canyon Dam at Lake Powell, which has recently fallen to historic lows.

Senators from the seven Western states in the Colorado River basin - including Arizona Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly - have been quietly meeting “for about a year,” to facilitate difficult discussions between the states over the future of the river. Read more»

Historically low levels at Lake Powell - seem here  in this November 2022 photo - could threaten Glen Canyon Dam’s ability to generate hydropower, one of the reasons the government had been releasing water from Flaming Gorge Reservoir upstream.

The federal government has halted releases from the Flaming Gorge Reservoir that were meant to prop up water levels at Lake Powell downstream, as heavy snows allowed the Bureau of Reclamation to end releases two months earlier than originally planned. Read more»

The power plant in Glen Canyon Dam generates electricity for about about 5 million people in seven states. Hydropower turbines within the dam may have to be shut off if water levels behind the dam in Lake Powell drop further.

Water levels in Lake Powell dropped to a record low Tuesday, with continued pressure from climate change and steady demand pushing the nation’s second-largest reservoir to the lowest level since it was first filled in the 1960s. Read more»

Western states are negotiating massive cuts to Colorado River water use to save essential reservoirs such as Lake Mead.

Western state water officials will spend the next few months trying to agree on how to divvy up water from the Colorado River, devastated by the worst drought in more than a thousand years - and if the states can’t agree, federal officials will unilaterally impose cuts later this year. Read more»

The Desolation Canyon Wilderness Area along the Green River in central Utah.

Environmental groups asked a 10th Circuit panel to order an environmental impact statement for the plan to give Utah 52,000 acre-feet of water from a reservoir annually, arguing the plan was approved without taking into account how drastically drought would deplete the river. Read more»

The water level behind the Hoover Dam on March 2, 2022.

Water authorities in the Western U.S. don’t have a crystal ball, but two decades of drought and poor planning have caused the river’s biggest reservoirs to drop to their lowest collective volume since they were filled and give a clear view of the hard choices ahead. Read more»

Water pools in a streambed blocked by the container wall built by Arizona Gov Doug Ducey in November.

Federal officials are closing access to a section of the Coronado National Forest where Arizona officials installed hundreds of cargo containers in a failed attempt to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Read more»

Kate Scott, the founder of the Madrean Archipelago Wildlife Center, removes a sign on the container wall along the Coronado National Forest in Cochise County.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey said the state will halt placing shipping containers along the Arizona-Mexico border, and begin removing hundreds of the 8,000-lb. steel boxes from federal lands by Jan. 4, according to a court document filed late Wednesday. Read more»

The Colorado River as it flows around Horseshoe Bend in Page, Arizona.

Lake Mead and Lake Powell are currently sitting at a combined storage of 13.1 million acre-feet, which is about a quarter of capacity. In December 1999, Lake Mead sat at 96% capacity and Lake Powell was at 88%. Read more»

Free water was destined to run out eventually. Facing this problem in the West will be difficult, considering that politics and culture have worked in tandem for so long to keep 'government' out of government-subsidized water.

Subsidized water cultivated the West, but to accommodate growth without limits as the population boomed, this required becoming increasingly profligate with the region’s scarcest resource. Read more»

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