Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Officials Say Less Chance of Colorado River Water Cuts in '17

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Officials Say Less Chance of Colorado River Water Cuts in '17

Article excerpt

LAS VEGAS - Wet weather in May and June brought good news Monday from federal water managers keeping close tabs on the Colorado River water supply for about 40 million residents in seven Southwest U.S. states. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation projected normal water deliveries to residents, farms, tribes and businesses at least through 2016 and possibly through 2017, water agency officials in Arizona, Nevada and California said.

"We may have dodged a bullet for the next few years, said William Hasencamp, Colorado River resources chief for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

Chuck Cullom, Colorado River programs manager for the Central Arizona Project in Phoenix, said the report gives municipal and state water authorities in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming a little more time to address what everyone acknowledges is a the long-term gap between supply and demand.

Cullom said he was optimistic.

"Water agencies in the lower basin have been working cooperatively to conserve water for the past couple of years, he said. "The result is an improvement in the overall water picture.

The bureau's 24-month projection came with the West still in the grips of a historic drought, and with Lake Mead just 38 percent full.

Upstream, the Lake Powell reservoir behind Glen Canyon Dam has improved to 53 percent of capacity, said Rose Davis, spokeswoman for the Bureau of Reclamation in Boulder City, Nevada.

The projection softened warnings made in May that there was a chance of supply cuts next year amounting to 4.3 percent to Nevada and 11.4 percent to Arizona.

"As of May, we were at 50-50 chance of shortage in 2016, Hasencamp said. "We could have had the first-ever shortage declaration today.

Instead, Hasencamp said the bureau reported that average precipitation this winter could get the region through 2017. …

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