Drought unmatched: The slow-motion train wreck is speeding up.

slow motion train wreck
Spread the love

The Colorado River’s dwindling water supply is a serious issue, prompting the Bureau of Reclamation to recommend cutting 2-4 million acre-feet of water deliveries next year in order to save Lake Mead and Lake Powell.

The Los Angeles TimesOpens in a new tab. puts the water cutbacks into perspective: “For comparison, California is entitled to 4.4 million acre-feet of Colorado River water per year, while Arizona’s allotment is 2.8 million.”

“What has been a slow-motion train wreck for 20 years is accelerating, and the moment of reckoning is near,” John Entsminger, general manager of the Southern Nevada Water Authority, which supplies the Las Vegas area is quoted as sayingOpens in a new tab..

Extreme Severity.

The drought currently impacting the upper Colorado River Basin is extremely severeOpens in a new tab..  But it’s not as bad as 2,000 years ago.

A new study from federal government and university scientists led by the Bureau of Reclamation and published in Geophysical Research Letters identifies a second-century drought unmatched in severity by the current drought or previously identified droughts.

“Previous studies have been limited to the past 1,200 years, but a limited number of paleo records of moisture variability date back 2,000 years,” said Subhrendu Gangopadhyay, lead author and principal engineer for the Water Resources Engineering and Management Group at the Bureau of Reclamation. “While there has been research showing extended dry periods in the southwest back to the eighth century, this reconstruction of the Colorado River extends nearly 800 years further into the past.”

The research finds that compared to the current 22-year drought in the Colorado River, with only 84% of the average water flow, the water flow during a 22-year period in the second century was much lower, just 68% of the average water flow.

Public Information.

The drought experienced in the Colorado River basin has extensive impacts throughout the West. Domestic water, water for crops, and the generation of electricity is impacted.

The Bureau of Reclamation is working with its partners to mitigate the impacts of this current 22-year drought. To learn more about the operations on the Colorado River, visit https://www.usbr.gov/ColoradoRiverBasin/Opens in a new tab..

The report can be viewed hereOpens in a new tab. (it’s free until June 30).


Since 1995, Deborah has owned and operated LegalTech LLC with a focus on water rights. Before moving to Arizona in 1986, she worked as a quality control analyst for Honeywell and in commercial real estate, both in Texas. She learned about Arizona's water rights from the late and great attorney Michael Brophy of Ryley, Carlock & Applewhite. Her side interests are writing (and reading), Wordpress programming and much more.

Leave a Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Recent Posts

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
Skip to content