In a statement published by Prescott eNews, the Arizona Department of Water Resources announced the release of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s August 24-Month Study, establishing Colorado River operations for next year that will continue cuts to Arizona’s water use from the river.
Although the Colorado River’s Upper Basin, which includes Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and New Mexico, saw a snowpack that was 107 percent of average, the return of ultra-dry and hot conditions resulted in inflows to Lake Powell measuring just 52 percent of average. Based on current conditions and Reclamation’s projections, the agency has determined that Upper Basin states will be required to release 8.23 million acre-feet of water from Powell during the 2021 water year, which begins Oct. 1. That number could rise to 9 million acre-feet if conditions continue to worsen.
The Lower Basin will continue operating under “Tier Zero” conditions, which trigger reductions to water diversions under the Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan. In 2020, Arizona was already taking 192,000 acre-feet less from the river than it has historically, helping mitigate damage caused by drought.
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