The government is reducing water deliveries to Arizona and Nevada starting in January due to the drought-stricken Colorado River.
The Colorado River will operate in a Tier 2 shortage condition for the first time, starting in 2023, as the West’s historic drought has taken a severe toll on Lake Mead and Lake Powell. It is the first time the lake has been pushed to that designation.
The Colorado River provides water to seven states and Mexico, but Arizona and Nevada will have to further reduce their Colorado usage due to a 2019 agreement that outlines the river’s water administration amid the drought.
The seven states were previously warned about impending restrictions from the Bureau of Reclamation if they were unable to conserve at least 15% more water on top of preexisting restrictions.
The Biden administration has invested considerable amounts of money to combat the “critically low reservoir conditions.” In the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Biden administration allocated $8.3 billion to, “address water and drought challenges and invest in our nation’s western water and power infrastructure, while rebuilding our existing projects to withstand a changing hydrology.”
Additionally, the Inflation Reduction Act includes another $4 billion in funding for water management and conservation efforts in the Colorado River Basin and other areas experiencing critical droughts.
“The Biden-Harris administration is taking an all-of-government approach to mitigating the drought, and the Interior Department is committed to using every resource available to conserve water and ensure that irrigators, Tribes and adjoining communities receive adequate assistance and support to build resilient communities and protect our water supplies.” Deputy Secretary of the Interior Tommy Beaudreau said in a press release on Tuesday.
This isn’t the first time Arizona and Nevada were hit by required water cuts. Last year, mandatory cuts included the regions’ farmers being paid to leave their fields fallow and city-dwellers were banned from watering their grass.