The Colorado River, which supplies water to tens of millions of people and many farms and is mainly fed by snowfall, is threatened by drought.
Some US states and Mexico will have to reduce their water consumption to avoid “catastrophic” consequences for the Colorado River, as the region suffers a historic drought, the federal government announced on Tuesday.
After more than two decades of lower than usual rainfall, the level of this waterway – essential for the American West – is alarmingly high. Drought cycles are aggravated by human-induced climate change.
Despite years of warnings, states that depend on the river have failed to sufficiently reduce their water needs, leading federal authorities to impose restrictions on Tuesday.
To avoid a catastrophic collapse of the Colorado River system and a future of uncertainty and conflict, water use in the basin must be reduced, said Tanya Trujillo, an official with the x27;federal water resources agency.
Arizona will receive 21% less water in 2023, Nevada 8% less and Mexico, where Colorado ends its run, 7% less.
California, the largest user of the river's water and the most populous of US states, will not be affected next year.
The Colorado River originates in the Rocky Mountains and meanders through Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Nevada, California, and northern Mexico, where it empties into the sea. p>
It is mainly fed by snowfall which accumulates during the winter at high altitudes, before gradually melting during the warmer months.
But under the effect of climate change, precipitation is decreasing and the snow is melting faster, depriving a river of some of its resources, which supplies water to tens of millions of people and many farms.< /p>
The Ministry of the Interior, which manages natural resources in particular, does everything in its power to preserve water and ensure that all people affected are receiving adequate assistance, Assistant Minister Tommy Beaudreau said.
The increasingly severe drought affecting the Colorado River watershed is due to the effects of climate change, including extreme heat and low rainfall, he described.
The American West is experiencing its 23rd year of drought, making it the severest in over 1000 years.
This dry environment facilitates the spread of wildfires of increasingly destructive.
Local measures are also being implemented in cities served by the Colorado River, such as Los Angeles, with, for example, unpopular restrictions on the ;outdoor watering.