Arizona to Lose 21 Percent of Its Colorado River Supply as Feds Announce Water Cut

The Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR) and Central Arizona Project (CAP) released a joint statement addressing the recent news from the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) that the state’s water supply from the Colorado River System will be reduced by one-fifth in 2023.

“It is unacceptable for Arizona to continue to carry a disproportionate burden of reductions for the benefit of others who have not contributed,” said ADWR Director Tom Buschatzke and CAP General Manager Ted Cooke. “Arizona is committed to work toward a comprehensive plan that assures protection of the system through equitable contributions from all water users.”

The Arizona Sun Times reached out to the ADWR for more information but did not receive any comment before publishing.

According to ADWR and CAP, Arizona has been working with other basin states and the BOR to identify steps to conserve between two and four million acre-feet (MAF) of water in the CRS. However, no plan has yet been produced. Allegedly, Arizona and Nevada put forward “an aggressive proposal that would achieve 2 MAF of reductions among the Lower Basin and Mexico in 2023 and beyond,” but that plan was rejected. The joint statement emphasized that achieving the necessary conservation will require “significant contributions” by all CRS water users.

The BOR stated the action comes as prolonged drought and “low runoff conditions accelerated by climate change” have led to historically low water levels in Lake Powell and Mead. While the department said it has been working with Colorado River Basin partners on drought response operations, the current framework has not done enough for the river system, which is why this additional action is needed to protect it.

A BOR study showed that Lake Mead will reach its lowest level recorded in 2023, triggering its first-ever Tier 2a shortage condition. Under the shortage, Arizona’s water supply will be reduced by 592,000 acre-feet of water in 2023, roughly 21 percent of its annual allotment. Nevada will have eight percent of its water withheld and Mexico will lose seven percent, while California will not receive any cuts.

Arizona Republican Gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake reacted to this news; if elected, she said she would fight for reasonable solutions.

“The Feds force AZ to take more cuts to our water allocation while CA gets a pass,” Lake tweeted. “As Governor I will fight for fair & equitable solutions. We will not allow the Feds to dry up AZ while others like CA don’t do a thing.”

According to AZ Family, farmers will be hit hard by the cut, especially in Pinal County, as they will receive no CRS water next year. This will affect how much farmers can produce and how much consumers will pay for the goods.

Wuertz Gourd Farm told AZ Family they expect to raise prices by six to seven percent, which they do not want to do because they have a niche business. Pinal farms can tap into their own wells, but that is not a perfect solution, as it will raise electricity costs. This, combined with inflation expenses, could make it difficult for the farmers to make ends meet.

The City of Scottsdale released a statement explaining how the cut could affect citizens. While not all decisions have been made, the city stated that no mandatory restrictions have been placed on citizens at present; however, the city asks that residents and business owners voluntarily reduce their water consumption by at least five percent so the city can maximize its water supplies.

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Neil Jones is a reporter for The Arizona Sun Times and The Star News Network. Follow Neil on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Colorado River in Arizona” by daveynin. CC BY 2.0.




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