The 2021 water year ends on Sept. 30, and it was another hot, dry year in the western U.S., with almost the entire region in drought. Reservoirs vital for farms, communities and hydropower have fallen to dangerous lows.
The biggest blow came in August, when the U.S. government issued its first ever water shortage declaration for the Colorado River, triggering water use restrictions.
In response, farmers and cities across the Southwest are now finding new, often unsustainable ways to meet their future water needs. Las Vegas opened a lower-elevation tunnel to Lake Mead, a Colorado River reservoir where water levels reached unprecedented lows at 35% of capacity. Farmers are ratcheting up groundwater pumping. Officials in Arizona, which will lose nearly one-fifth of its river water allotment under the new restrictions, even floated the idea of piping water hundreds of miles from the Mississippi River.
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Sadegh, Mojtaba; Mirchi, Ali; AghaKouchak, Amir; and Madani, Kaveh. (2021). "Avoiding Water Bankruptcy in the Drought-Troubled Southwest: What the US and Iran Can Learn from Each Other". The Conversation, .