Colorado river is collapsing ‘sooner than anyone thought’

(NaturalNews) Water resource experts have known for many years that current use of the Colorado River is not sustainable. Sixteen years of drought have made it clear that the river is overtaxed, and cannot indefinitely meet the demands of agriculture, hydroelectric generation, recreation and sustaining the populations of some of the fastest-growing cities in the nation.

This past spring was an unusually wet one, leading to higher-than-average runoff from river’s source in the Rocky Mountains. Yet even at atypically high levels, the river still ran dry before reaching its outlet at the Gulf of California.

All of which suggests that the elaborate water distribution system that sustains the cities and farms of the Southwest may be collapsing sooner than anyone expected.

Will Phoenix be abandoned?

Water from the Colorado also goes to water beef pastures in western Colorado, produce electricity at the Hoover and Glen Canyon Dams, and irrigate lettuce fields in southeast Arizona.

At some time in the next few decades, federal officials have warned, some of those uses will have to give. Never, since the signing of the 1922 Colorado River Compact, have any river users been forced to take allotment compacts. But that day is fast approaching.

Due to the idiosyncrasies of the compact, some users would be hit worse than others. California would take almost no cutbacks, due to a 1968 agreement in which California allowed Arizona to build a massive water diversion system (the Central Arizona Project). In exchange for that approval, Arizona agreed to suffer steeper water cuts in the event of a shortage.

Arizona officials are very concerned about this possibility, in spite of serious conservation measures taken in the 1980s. Cutbacks would likely lead to the fallowing (or even abandoning) of fields in central Arizona used to grow cotton and cattle field. The greatest fear is that water shortages might require placing caps on urban growth in the capital city of Phoenix. Arizona’s economy is founded upon urban growth.

Sources:

http://www.latimes.com

Full article: Colorado river is collapsing ‘sooner than anyone thought’ (Natural News)

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