According to Circle of Blue, California and Arizona plan to draw this year and next year on reserves of water previously banked in Lake Mead under a program adopted in 2007 called “intentionally created surplus” or ICS. This will allow them to avoid more serious cutbacks as Lake Mead’s levels continue to decline. In the face of record-high temperatures and climate change, the Colorado River Basin’s Lake Powell and Lake Mead have fallen below 40% full. ICS was intended to incentivize water conservation, prevent waste, and boost storage in Lake Mead as levels dropped. Water managers say it is a flexible tool for adapting to a drying climate and reducing severe shortages, but critics are wary of whether the private savings accounts, layered on top of the public water pool, amounts to a double counting of supplies. Water managers themselves acknowledge a “false sense of security” and the short-term nature of the program as a viable solution. Right now 30% of the water in Lake Mead is ICS.
Read more on this story from Circle of Blue.