Water and Irrigation Challenges in the Southwest United States: Links
Vox, This stunning timelapse shows the megadrought’s toll on the West’s largest reservoir, Lili Pike, 4/21/2021
Generally speaking, she said, cities will be relatively unaffected by any cuts for now, whereas farms, which consume the vast majority of the basin’s water, will have to start investing in technologies like drip irrigation to become more efficient.
National Geographic, ‘Megadrought’ persists in western U.S., as another extremely dry year develops, Alejandra Borunda, 5/7/2021
Along the California-Oregon border in the Klamath River basin, water reserves are so low that farmers in the region will receive only 8 percent of the water they usually get. The Yurok and Karuk tribes, which steward salmon and other fish populations along the river, are concerned that it won’t have enough water to keep the fish healthy.
As of late August 2013, most of the area reservoirs were at less than 50% capacity. This has led to water cutbacks for irrigation, such as on the Ute Mountain Ute Farm in Towaoc, Colorado. They only received 22% of their water allocation to water 7500 acres of crops in 2013. This meant no corn, no wheat and only watering 1000 acres of alfalfa, when they normally have 4000-5000 acres of alfalfa.
The Colorado River supports over 40 million people spread across seven southwestern states, 29 tribal nations, and Mexico. It’s responsible for the irrigation of roughly 5.5 million acres of land marked for agricultural use. Local and regional headlines show the river is in crisis. The nation mostly isn’t listening.
“At the time the study was published, Dr. Williams said, there was a possibility that a wet May would “bail 2020 out” and perhaps be the beginning of the end for the drought. “But that didn’t happen in the Southwest,” he said. ”It’s looking like more of the same.”
The Colorado rises in the Rocky Mountains and slices through ranch lands and canyons, including the Grand Canyon, as it winds through the American west. It previously emptied into the Gulf of California in Mexico but now ends several miles shy of this due to the amount of water extraction for US agriculture and cities ranging from Denver to Tijuana. The river’s upper basin supplies water to about 40 million people and supports 16m jobs. It feeds the two largest water reserves in the US, Lake Powell and Lake Mead, with the latter supplying Las Vegas with almost all of its water.