U.S. Bureau of Reclamation declares Colorado River has a water shortage

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The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has declared a shortage of Colorado river water. The announcement came recently and it means Arizona farmers will see a cut in deliveries of Colorado river water. We learned more about the declaration’s impact from Sarah Porter, of ASU’s Kyl Center for Water Policy. 

How will this shortage affect Arizona farmers?

“Almost all of the cut will be borne by central Arizona farmers mostly in Pinal County. And it means that rather than watering their fields with imported water from the Colorado River, they’ll be watering their acreage with groundwater, and they will reduce some of the amount of land that they have been using for irrigated agriculture,” Porter said.

The reliance on groundwater will impact our water resources. The groundwater is nonrenewable and won’t be able available for future water users.

“In 1980 when we passed the Groundwater Management Act and created areas in, in the most populous parts of the state from Prescott to Phoenix to Pinal county to Tucson. We made this commitment to think of groundwater as our long term savings. And so we really tried to push growth onto renewable water supplies. And this is in a way a step in, you know, back to the old days before we had the CAP (Central Arizona Project), when we had a lot of farming on non renewable groundwater resources,”Porter said.

A major impact will be on the newer cities. Porter said they will have the hardest time with finding water supplies they can use for the long-term.

Sarah Porter, Director, Kyl Center for Water Policy

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