AZ prepares for cutbacks on Colorado River water

By Ian James | Arizona Republic (Image by Klaus Stebani)

With the Colorado River’s largest reservoir just 38% full and declining toward the threshold of a first-ever shortage, Arizona water officials convened an online meeting this week to outline how the state will deal with water cutbacks, saying the reductions will be “painful” but plans are in place to lessen the blow for affected farmers next year.

Lake Mead’s decline is expected to trigger substantial reductions in water deliveries in 2022 for Arizona, Nevada and Mexico. The largest of those cuts will affect Arizona, slashing its Colorado River supplies by 512,000 acre-feet, about a fifth of its total entitlement.

While that will shrink the amount of water flowing to farmlands through the Central Arizona Project Canal, the state’s water managers said during Thursday’s meeting that they’re prepared and have plans ready to handle shortages over the next five years, even if Lake Mead continues to drop to levels that would bring larger cutbacks.

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