declining Lower Colorado River Basin water use

Amid the Colorado River water management attention last week rightly focused on the fact that a wet winter in the Upper Basin means a big release this year from Lake Powell to help refill Lake Mead, I missed another bit of business that may be even more important.

The Bureau of Reclamation’s planning model is forecasting an 8.687 million acre foot release to meet downstream needs this water year – Arizona, California, Nevada, Baja, Sonora, plus system losses. This would be the lowest downstream demand since 2005, and continues a general downward trend dating to the late 1990s:

Releases from Lake Mead

When people have less water, they use less water.