Based on declining water levels in Lake Mead, the U.S. declared the first ever "Tier 1" water shortage on the Colorado River last week, a measure that will force cuts in water apportionment along the river, especially in Arizona. This article from Bloomberg CityLab considers the impact on Phoenix and Arizona in general.
"The state of Arizona has been in drought since 1994. In that time, its population has almost doubled to 7.2 million people as of 2020, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The majority of that growth has been in Maricopa, Pima, and Pinal counties, which cover the area around and between Arizona’s two largest cities Phoenix and Tucson. Both cities — along with native tribes, farmers, and municipal and industrial users — draw a substantial portion of their water from the Central Arizona Project, a system of canals and aqueducts that carries water from the Colorado River, more than 300 miles to the northwest. ... With the announcement [of the Tier 1 shortage] came cuts to CAP’s water supply. Early next year, supply will drop 30%. ... Arizona is one of seven states in the Colorado River Compact, a water-sharing agreement that goes back nearly 100 years. Given the drought conditions, in 2007 the members adopted interim guidelines to clarify how they would share the shrinking amount of water. By 2019, those guidelines were no longer adequate, and the states adopted the Drought Contingency Plan, which established a series of triggers for water reductions based on levels in Lake Mead. Members of the Colorado River Compact are granted different levels priority access to water in the event of a shortage much the way loan- and bondholders get priority access to capital in the event of a bankruptcy. Not only is Arizona among the first group to see reductions, it will also see far greater reductions than other areas, at least initially. ... There’s a hierarchy of users within CAP, as well. Farmers—who represent just 1% of the state’s economy but use 74% of its water—will bear the brunt of the first cuts."
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