STATES MARKED BELOW IN ORANGE ARE AFFECTED BY THE COLORADO RIVER CRISIS.
The Colorado River begins as melting snow, gaining flows as it courses down the Rocky Mountains.
- Through what states does the Colorado River flow?
Its major tributaries take shape across Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and New Mexico, coming together in a great river like no other — a river that travels more than 1,400 miles delivering electricity and water to Arizona, California, Nevada and ultimately Mexico. Water diverted from the river has enabled agriculture to spread across 5 million acres of farmland and has fed the growth of cities from Denver to Los Angeles, supplying about 40 million people, not to mention being a crucial resource to 30 Tribal Nations.
- Why has the Colorado River failed to deliver the water needed?
In 1922, those seven states along the river negotiated the Colorado River Compact, which apportioned the water That agreement established a system that overpromised what the river could provide and as they have taken more than its flows can support, it and the reservoirs it feeds into, have dwindled. Decades of overuse have been profoundly exacerbated by the droughts climate change has helped deliver.
- Why is there a crisis now when everything has worked for 100 years?
Water levels have dropped precipitously in recent years at Lakes Mead and Powell, the nation’s largest reservoirs that power Hoover and Glen Canyon and provide water for drinking and agriculture to millions.They are now, even after this past year’s historic snowfall, at close to 40%of their capacity - a drop so significant that that the dams would become an obstacle to delivering water to cities and farms in Arizona, California and Mexico.
- How is this problem going to be resolved?
The federal government is intervening. They first called upon the states to come to an agreement cutting usage. The states failed to come to an agreement earlier this year. The Interior Department will shortly decide for them weighing cuts in rapidly growing urban areas against farming communities.
The Colorado River provides water and electricity to more than 40 million people in seven states: Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona and California.
MAP DATA FROM VERIOUS SOURCES INCLUDING WIKIPEDIA
Map drawn and developed by Climate Change Resources Inc.