Historic Drought Forces Federal Restrictions on Colorado River

Photo: Getty Images [via Axios]

The Facts

  • On Tues., the US federal government announced that the Colorado River will now operate under 'Tier 2' shortage restrictions for the first time as the western US faces a historic drought. The designation requires Arizona, Nevada, and Mexico to further reduce their use of the river system starting in January.

  • The Tier 2 shortage was issued for Lake Mead, an important reservoir for the river's water system that has dipped to dangerously low levels.

The Spin

Narrative A

These restrictions are exacerbated by Colorado River Basin states failing to devise their own water conservation plans. The federal government asked the states to prepare a plan in June for this climate-catalyzed drought, and they failed to do so. The federal government had no choice but to enact these measures when state governments didn't develop innovative measures to tackle the crisis on their own.

Narrative B

State agencies and nonprofits recognize that these federal restrictions are a band-aid to buy more time. Ultimately the solution - to reduce water consumption across the region - will come from state and local levels. This is an unprecedented crisis, and states and local governments will be the ones to take on the mantle of water sustainability in the long run.

Nerd narrative

There's a 50% chance that at least 2.89M acres in Califonia will burn due to wildfires in 2022, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

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