What does a water problem look like? A good example of this is the shores of Lake Mead on the Colorado River. The shore is sun bleached and it resembles a bathtub ring as the shore fades away.
This is the way nature lets people know there is a problem. Over the past 16 years due to droughts the water levels fell 135 feet. The lake is only filled to 37% capacity. This is the lowest water level since the Great Depression right after the lake was constructed.
Lake Mead is a sign that the Colorado River basin in is problem and is facing one of the worst drought to hit the western part of the country in more than a century.
Several years ago the lake was at 1,075 feet and at this level a water shortage was declared for the Colorado River basin. If something is not done it is estimated that there will be a 50% chance of there being a water shortage. This will go into effect January 2018.
The problems are related to the drought as well as strict water management laws in the area. More water is being used in the seven states that are along the Colorado River and Mexico than the water is providing. This is a threat to 36 million people that depend on this water. The basin is having trouble keeping up with the demand for water.
Las Vegas which is 25 miles from Lake Mead, hosted a meeting for the Colorado River Water Users Association to address this issue. The Bureau of the Reclamation selected Commissioner Estevan Lopez to lead the federal conference. The states alone the river will meet as well as official from the Mexican government, Native American tribal leaders, and both private and non government parties.
The Walton Family Foundation is supporting measures to stop the overuse of water and is looking for a healthy solution. They are supporting the University of Colorado River Project which is looking to spread the word about water waste.
There are five actions that need to be taken immediately to save the water supply.
USA and Mexico need to work together to manage the river flow. This includes joint conversation attempts and short term water exchanges and sharing.
The government should lessen the impact of over use of this water. The states of Arizona, Nevada, and California need to do this and they should work with the government to find an alternative solution.
The Federal Bureau of Reclamation needs to come up with a drought plan for the upper basin states and work with those on the Colorado River Storage Project.
There are Native American tribes alone the Colorado River that if are not resolved can hurt the water levels. The government needs to work with the tribes to agree on a solution.
The Department of Interior and the Department of Agriculture need to work to advance conversation efforts and work on the issues that are affecting water levels.