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The Colorado River is Stressed

  • The Colorado River Compact of 1922 allocated both the upper and lower basins each 7.5 million acre-feet per year, but States are recognizing that they cannot plan on that amount of water being available.

  • The lower basin, made up of Arizona, California and Nevada, are estimated to have consumed less than 7 million acre-feet in 2016, the lowest rate of consumption since 1992.

  • New Mexico and Wyoming (upper basin states) base their planning on 5.8 million acre-feet of water being available to the upper basin.

  • While conservation programs are being pursued in both basins, there are also new proposed diversions. For example, a nuclear plant's right to withdraw water from the Green River in Utah was recently upheld by a state appeals courts.

  • As the population grows, demands on the basin increase and climatic changes alter when and how much water is available at any given time, the stress will only increase.


- "Colorado River’s Tale of Two Basins, " 2 August 2016 accessible at

- "Big CAP cuts coming as 3-state water agreement nears," 23 April 2016 accessible at

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