Momentary reprieve

One small step in the effort to avoid draining the Colorado River completely dry:

A deal has been struck by Joe Biden’s administration for California, Arizona and Nevada to take less water from the drought-stricken Colorado River, in a bid to prevent the river dwindling further and imperiling the water supplies for millions of people and vast swaths of agricultural land in the US west.

The agreement, announced on Monday, will involve the three states, water districts, Native American tribes and farm operators cutting about 13% of the total water use in the lower Colorado basin, a historic reduction that will probably trigger significant water restrictions on the region’s residents and farmland.

The agreement averts, for now, the prospect of the Biden administration imposing unilateral water cuts upon the seven states – California, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming – that rely upon the river, a prospect that has loomed since last summer when the waterway’s two main reservoirs, Lake Mead and Lake Powell, hit perilously low levels.

And that’s good, but, of course, it’s not as if it’s going to fill the river back up to where it was.

Experts welcomed the deal but cautioned that a longer-term solution was still badly needed.

Harnessing the might of the Colorado river, which rises in the Rocky Mountains and flows all the way to Mexico, has enabled cities such as Los Angeles, Phoenix and Las Vegas to flourish…

…and drain the Colorado dry. It turns out that building huge cities in a desert was not such a good idea.

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