CNBC has a front-page article on water allocation cuts in Arizona. Water allocation is declining, as we’ve seen since the Glen Canyon water constraints issue:
A deepening drought and falling reservoir levels in the western U.S. have prompted Arizona farmers to cut off water to the Colorado River for the first time.
Now, I want to know the logic of growing high water usage crops (corn, cotton and alfalfa) in the desert. But I can understand why America would want to promote public works in the 1940s to get people to move in and develop less developed parts of the country, especially the desert southwest. But success breeds its own problems.
The wildness of pulling populations into the desert is beyond anyone’s dreams. In 1930, Arizona’s population was just over 430,000 (compared to Colorado’s population of just over 1 million). In 2020, Arizona’s population was over 7.1 million (Colorado is now over 5.7 million).
All of this growth has been driven by the damming of the Colorado and other rivers. The Colorado River isn’t the only water source feeling the effects of the megadrought now happening. It affects:
August Bureau of Reclamation One of the river’s main reservoirs, Lake Mead, was declared short of water after water levels fell to an all-time low. More than a third of Arizona’s water flows along the Colorado River to Lake Mead.
The government’s announcement triggered a Tier 1 cut, reducing the state’s river water supply by nearly 20 percent, or 512,000 acre-feet. An acre foot of water supplies about two homes a year.
Arizona farmers use nearly three-quarters of the available water to irrigate their crops.
They also face a Water prices in some counties recently jumped 33 percent.
Phoenix Water Management Consultant Quoted
“The American West is the canary in the coal mine of climate change,” Campbell said during a meeting at Phoenix City Hall. “These problems are going to start happening elsewhere as well.”
Canaries are dying – you might wonder what that means for residents of the American Southwest if they don’t wake up.
This won’t be the last time we see news of this. Unfortunately, the only thing I can say about funding cuts and price increases for agricultural water in the desert southwest is that now is the time, and much later than it should be.