California’s water supply is declining, and the Colorado River is undergoing more intense irrigation

More water restrictions likely as California pledges to cut use of Colorado River supply

From the Los Angeles Times

Thursday, June 26, 2014 | 5:45 a.m.

The amount of water used in the Colorado River basin each year from spring runoff is down by 20 percent this year, a reduction from the 33 percent annual reduction recorded in 2014, with the total reduction due to severe drought.

Water use from the river has dropped so drastically in recent years that officials in the Colorado River basin are preparing for more water restrictions due to a growing population and more intense irrigation.

California Gov. Jerry Brown has pledged to cut the supply of water from the Colorado River to the state by more than half.

With the state’s water supply dwindling, California is now relying on a combination of desalination and rainfall to raise water levels in the Colorado River and elsewhere in the basin.

Desalination plants in the Colorado River basin are capable of handling about 40 percent of the estimated 2.5 million acre-feet of water they used last year, according to data provided by the University of California’s Water Resources Research Center.

Colorado River water usage is projected to grow at an annual rate of about 17 percent over the next few years, said Scott Gediman, deputy chief of the Department of Water Resources, based in Sacramento.

“We’re not out of the woods yet. There are still about a dozen inches of snow and two feet of rain in the winter,” he said. “More rain is needed.”

The water crisis has come as a surprise to many, especially as water deliveries to California from the Colorado River have been declining.

The river is in such poor condition, with about a 10 percent drop in flow every year, that it’s no longer pumping enough water into the ground to replenish the lake and reservoir at Lake Mead.

The Colorado River has run out of space to store water, and in response, the California Department

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