Drought's impact on Arizona's rivers could be dire, but WRAN's growing membership gives us hope! Photo: Jon Buford

WRAN News: August 2020

Reduced Water Deliveries Continue on Drought-Stricken Colorado River

The Colorado River millennial mega-drought continues, despite robust snowpack last winter. Above-average temperatures in spring resulted in a paltry 57% runoff, nowhere near enough water to refill the reservoirs that remain half-empty. Based on these conditions, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation recently determined that 2021 will be a “tier zero” year under the Lower Colorado River Basin Drought Contingency Plan, with reduced water deliveries for Arizona, Nevada, and Mexico. Audubon advocated over several years for the states to adopt this plan that is needed to avoid catastrophic water shortages that would impact people and nature in prolonged and severe dry periods.

The good news is that the Lower Basin water users have demonstrated they can conserve water at scale through system conservation and key partnerships. And as climate change impacts grow in the Colorado River Basin, water conservation will help rural and urban communities thrive while ensuring the sustainability of important bird habitats. Read more.

New Senate Bill Threatens U.S.—Mexico Cooperation and Birds of Lower Colorado River:

Legislation proposed by Senator Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) would destroy the Ciénega de Santa Clara, the largest remaining wetland in the Colorado River Delta, essential for both resident and migrating birds. The bill would instruct the federal government to operate the Yuma Desalting Plant. While the broader purpose of the legislation—to secure federal investment in energy and water—is laudable, the mandate to operate the long-defunct Yuma Desalting Plant is a mistake. It’s bad for birds, and for our existing agreements with Mexico. Read more. You can also read John Fleck’s (professor and river expert) take.

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Want to dig deeper into the issues affecting Arizona's Rivers and water? Check out the blog entries below:

(To see stories from across the Colorado River Basin, visit National Audubon's Western Water News page.)

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