After more than two decades of lower than usual rainfall, the level of this river – essential for the American West – is alarming. Drought cycles are aggravated by human-induced climate change.
Despite years of warnings, states that depend on the river have failed to sufficiently reduce their water needs, leading federal authorities to impose restrictions on Tuesday.
To avoid a catastrophic collapse of the Colorado River system and a future of uncertainty and conflict, water use in the basin must be reduced.said Tanya Trujillo, an official with the federal water resources agency.
Arizona will receive 21% less water in 2023, Nevada, 8% less, and Mexico, where Colorado ends its run, 7% less.
California, the largest user of the river’s water and the most populous US state, will not be affected next year.
Officials from states located up the river have denounced a decision deemed unfair.
It is unacceptable that Arizona should continue to bear a disproportionate share of the burden of reductions [d’eau] for the benefit of others who have not contributed to the effort, said in a press release Tom Buschatzke and Ted Cooke, two senior officials of the services of management of the water in this state of the American Southwest.
The Colorado River originates in the Rocky Mountains and meanders through Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Nevada, California, and northern Mexico, where it empties into the sea.
It is mainly fed by snowfall which accumulates during the winter at high altitudes, before gradually melting during the warmer months.
23rd year of drought
But under the effect of climate change, precipitation is decreasing and the snow is melting faster, which deprives a river of some of its resources, which supplies water to tens of millions of people and many agricultural operations.
The Department of the Interior, which notably manages natural resources, is doing everything in its power
to save water and ensure that all affected people receive
adequate helpsaid Assistant Minister Tommy Beaudreau.
The increasingly severe drought affecting the Colorado River watershed is due to the effects of climate change, including extreme heat and low rainfallhe described.
The American West is experiencing its 23rd year of drought, making it the most severe episode in more than 1,000 years.
This dry environment facilitates the spread of increasingly destructive forest fires.
Local measures are also being put in place in cities served by the Colorado River, such as Los Angeles, with, for example, unpopular restrictions on outdoor watering.