What it will take to fix Lake Mead – the Arizona suggestion

Last night, I shared Part I of an interesting discussion by Arizona water managers of the risk facing Lake Mead and Lower Colorado River Basin water users in Nevada, Arizona and California:

Absent some big wet years or management intervention, Lake Mead could drop to levels in the next five to eight years that would make it nearly unusable – especially for power generation and water for Las Vegas, but also at some risk for other downstream users.

The evaluation by the Central Arizona Project water managers is pretty grim. But Part II, in the morning light, may be more interesting. It’s the boldest proposal I’ve seen in public from inside the water management community for fixing the lower basin’s “structural deficit” – the fact that routine Colorado River water use in the three states is greater than the river can supply.

It’s a “share the pain” proposal, and calls for taking steps ahead of the problem to slow Lake Mead’s decline “based on principal that all Colorado River water and power users share risk”.

It would:

  • reduce annual Lower Basin water use by 600,000 to 900,000 acre feet per year
  • fund the reductions with $100 million per year to pay for “joint system conservation/augmentation projects”

So maybe I was too gloomy blogging into the late hours last night? Does the “Drought Response and Sustainability Plan” now in the works offer the chance to get ahead of the problem?

Here’s the full CAP slide deck. The stuff about the solution space begins on page 32:



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