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Summer 2016

A project of the Water Education Foundation Bending the Curve:

The Lower Basin Drought Contingency Proposal

By Gary Pitzer

More than 15 years of drought on the Colorado River is increasing the chance that Lake Mead will fall low enough to trigger a shortage declaration in the not- too-distant future. It seems a matter of when and not if. According to the Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation), there is a 65 percent chance of a shortage being declared between 2019 and 2021.

To alleviate the anticipated impacts of declining levels in Lake Mead, the Colorado River Basin states and water users are working on a plan to slow the decline of the nation’s largest reservoir. “Te system has reached a tipping

point we knew would come one day,” said Lisa Atkins, president of the Central Arizona Project (CAP) board of direc-

tors. “It signals the need for Colorado River water users, regardless of the state in the basin, [water rights] prior- ity or the use of water, to work more quickly and diligently to address the ongoing imbalances between supply and demand.” Atkins made her remarks May 18 at a Colorado River Shortage Briefing

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