First-ever Colorado River water shortage is now almost certain, new projections show
(CNN) Thousands of people will celebrate Memorial Day this weekend on the water of Lake Mead, just 24 miles east of Las Vegas on the border of Arizona and Nevada.
What they may not realize is that the oasis they're enjoying in the desert is entering unchartered territory, with significant ramifications for millions across the Southwest in the years to come.
Drought ravages California's reservoirs ahead of hot sumer
OROVILLE, Calif. (AP) — Each year Lake Oroville helps water a quarter of the nation’s crops, sustain endangered salmon beneath its massive earthen dam and anchor the tourism economy of a Northern California county that must rebuild seemingly every year after unrelenting wildfires.
But now the mighty lake — a linchpin in a system of aqueducts and reservoirs in the arid U.S. West that makes California possible — is shrinking with surprising speed amid a severe drought, with state officials predicting it will reach a record low later this summer.
2021 Drought Conditions
As we begin to enter warmer months in drought conditions, communicating with our member agencies and membership associations is essential to providing insight into our service areas ongoing preparedness for climate resiliency. This is also an opportunity to highlight the need for more statewide and local investments in water infrastructure and resiliency.
Investments In Infrastructure Increase Water Supply Reliability
- Together with our member agencies, Three Valleys Municipal Water District (TVMWD) has invested millions of dollars into developing and managing drought-resilient water supplies, specifically with the building of wells to increase the local groundwater supply.
- Planning for periodic dry years and drought is part of responsible water management in California. Water agencies throughout the state have developed plans to address climate change.
- In addition to local investment, action must be taken at the state and federal levels to improve our aging water infrastructure to realize a more reliable, resilient water supply for our residents and to maintain the food supply as the extremes of climate change grow more severe.
- Uncertainties, such as new regulations, natural disasters and unpredictable climate are constant reminders of how important it is to invest in increased statewide storage and diversified water supplies.
- It often takes 10 years or longer to realize the benefits of investments into more resilient and reliable water supplies.
California Drought Statistics/Supplies
- As the annual water year drew to a close early this spring, the state’s current snowpack was less than twothirds of normal for this date in the Northern and Central Sierras and well under 50% for Southern Sierra, marking this past year the third driest year on record. Ongoing weather conditions will play a large part in determining how California will be impacted. (Check DWR’s website for updated figures.)
- California’s current reservoir conditions vary throughout the state: Lake Shasta, the state’s largest reservoir located in Northern California, was at 45% of capacity (52% of historical average); San Luis Reservoir in Central California was at 45% of capacity (55% of historical average); Castaic Lake was at 68% of capacity (76% of historical average). (Statistics are as of May 25. Check DWR’s website for updated figures.)
- Through our wholesale water supplier Metropolitan Water District (MWD), TVMWD will assess conditions on an ongoing basis to ensure we have sufficient water supplies for the community and will keep customers informed as the situation changes.
Long-term Water Efficiency Remains a Way of Life
- During the 2012-2016 drought, TVMWD member agencies significantly reduced water use and currently use less water than those pre-drought levels thanks to increased awareness about water efficiency and use of various MWD and local conservation rebate and incentive programs. This long-term change will help our service area undergo what may be the second dry winter in a row. Rev. May 2021
- California has experienced many periods of drought and weather extremes due to climate change, which will continue to occur more frequently. Continuing to make water efficiency a California way of life will help the state stay prepared for all climactic extremes.
- As we move into the hotter, summer months, we will continue to promote the efforts of our member agencies for their ongoing water-use efficiency achievements and encourage them to keep using water wisely as a way of life in California.
- TVMWD values efficient water use and offers customers numerous rebate and incentive programs to be more water efficient.
- Californians can practice water efficiency year-round and make a difference by finding and fixing leaks, taking shorter showers and installing California-friendly landscapes.