Federal water officials decided this week that there’s enough water in Lake Mead to keep up with deliveries in Arizona, Nevada and California next year. That cheered downstream users of the Colorado River, who have been anxiously awaiting word on whether the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation might begin emergency cuts in the water Lake Mead provides Arizona and Nevada.
It turns out the lake is a few feet higher than a mandatory cutoff level. But a likely shortfall in the future has a regional business group calling for action.
“The bad news is that we barely missed it, and we still remain dangerously close to automatic cuts, “ says Nicole Gonzales Patterson, Arizona state chair of Protect the Flows, a network of eleven-hundred businesses, and it’s calling for more innovation and conservation to support a healthy Colorado River system.
“And the studies show a high probability of shortages in 2018 and beyond.”
The Colorado supports more than more than 35 million people and $1.7 trillion in economic activity – about $70 billion in Utah. Gonzales Patterson says using water wisely is essential – especially for businesses.
“Conservation is our cheapest -- our low-hanging fruit. And I think that, absolutely, we should be talking more about that. There’s always more we can do.”
The call for conservation comes just as the Utah Division of Water Resources steps up its “H2Oath Games.” Four winning cities will receive a $5,000 grant based on the number of residents who pledge to conserve water. The contest continues through September 15.