The major artery of the Southwest US, the Colorado River, is in bad shape. From Dan Elliott at yahoo.com:
DENVER (AP) — The outlook for the most important river in the Southwestern U.S. remains grim this summer after April storms failed to produce much snow in the mountains that feed the waterway, forecasters said Monday.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said the Colorado River is expected to carry only 43 percent of the average amount of water into Lake Powell, one of two huge reservoirs that store and distribute the river.
It’s the fifth-lowest forecast in 54 years.
“It’s pretty dramatic. It’s a very low runoff season,” said Greg Smith, a hydrologist with the agency.
But officials have said that Lake Powell and its companion, Lake Mead, will be high enough to avoid mandatory cutbacks for water users this year.
The Colorado River serves about 40 million people and 6,300 square miles (16,300 square kilometers) of farmland in United States and Mexico.
Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Wyoming and Utah all use the river or its tributaries, along with 20 native American reservations.
The river is under increasing stress because of rising demand and declining flows. The region has been in a drought for 18 years — long enough that some researchers say it may represent a permanent shift.
Global warming is also contributing to the reduced river flows, scientists said.
Last year’s snowfall was uneven but mostly below average across the mountains that feed the Colorado.
To continue reading: Outlook for vital Southwestern US river remains grim