Lakes Mead, Powell at risk again from drought despite major conservation efforts

Photo: Colorado River water/The New York Times

By Tony Davis | Arizona Daily Star  

For the second time in two years, federal officials are warning that Lake Mead could drop in five to six years to levels low enough to possibly warrant major Central Arizona Project water cutbacks to Tucson and Phoenix.

These warnings were ratcheted up significantly compared to forecasts made earlier this year. That’s due to the severely hot and dry weather that struck most of the West during the summer, including the hottest two months on record in Tucson and Phoenix in August and July, respectively.

The negative forecasts come despite 13 years of major government-run water conservation efforts in the Colorado River Basin. These have raised Lake Mead 40 feet higher by the end of 2020 than it otherwise would have been, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation says.

These forecasts are nothing new. In fact, predictions somewhat gloomier than this one were released by the bureau about two years ago, following another hot, dry summer.

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