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Mitch Basefsky

Further Action Needed to Stave Off Future Water Restrictions

A report released today by the Bureau of Reclamation confirms that the Department of Interior will not declare a shortage on the Colorado River in 2016. In addition, the Bureau expects that 2017 will also be a normal water use year. While this is excellent news, there is still a small probability of a shortage in 2017.  Central Arizona Project (CAP) and its partners in Arizona, other Colorado River Basin states, the United States and Mexico will continue to cooperate on initiatives to stave off possible future water restrictions on the Colorado River system.  

The Bureau’s detailed report shows the anticipated level in Lake Mead on January 1, 2016 will be1,082 feet above sea level, more than seven feet above the 1,075 foot level that would trigger a shortage declaration for the lower Colorado River. Also, CAP predicts that Lake Mead may have only a 15 percent probability of a shortage being declared in 2017.

“This report clearly shows that conservation by CAP and its partners, along with record breaking rains and cooler weather in the Upper Basin in May and June, have staved off shortage for 2016 and significantly reduced the risk for 2017," said CAP Board President Lisa Atkins. "However, we must remain vigilant in preparing for potential future shortages and working with our colleagues across the Colorado River Basin to address the long-term risks in the Colorado River system."

The Bureau’s report also revealed that usage in the Lower Basin states this year was lower than anticipated, largely due to CAP and its partners reducing demand on Lake Mead. Also, the Colorado River reservoirs in the Upper Basin are mostly full. This means that Lake Powell is likely to receive significant river flows in 2016. 

For decades CAP has taken direct steps to improve reliability of our Colorado River supplies and improve the health of the river. Enhancing and expanding these efforts is and will remain a major priority for CAP.