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Arizona farmers will bear the brunt of the Colorado River

FLAGSTAF, Ariz. (AZ) – Arizona is ready to lose about one-fifth of its Colorado River water, which could be the first federally declared river deficit to supply millions of people in the western United States and Mexico. State officials said on Thursday.

Arizona is losing more than any other state in the Colorado River Basin, including Wyoming, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado, N’Jada, and California. That’s because Arizona has long agreed to cut first for cuts to deliver water to major Arizona capitals in exchange for federally funded canal systems.

The Arizona Department of Water Resources և The Arizona Central Project, which manages the canal system, says the projected cuts will be painful, but the state has been preparing for decades through austerity, water banks, partnerships and other efforts.

“It does not make it any less painful. But at least we know what to expect, “said Ted Cook, Central Arizona project manager.

Farmers in central Arizona’s Pinal County, who are already planting crops in continuous drought, improving wells to pump groundwater in anticipation of cuts, will bear the brunt of the cuts. Most of the farms are family farms, which are among the leading producers of livestock, dairy products, cotton, barley, wheat and alfalfa.

In Pinal County, up to 40 percent of the farmland that relies on the Colorado River can be reaped in the next few years, said Stephanie Smallhouse, president of the Arizona Farm Bureau Federation.

“It’s a big blow,” he said. “I can not think of many other businesses that can reduce their revenues by 40% in a few months while still being stable. When you run a farm, it’s not just a business, it’s your livelihood. ”

The Reclamation Bureau predicted earlier this month that Lake Mead, which supplies water to Arizona, N’Jada, California and Mexico in June 2021, would fall 1,075 feet (328 meters) for the first time if the lake remained below that level in August, when the bureau released its 22 official Arizona և Njada will lose water by

The two countries have already voluntarily given up water as part of a separate drought emergency plan.

Grade 1 voluntary and mandatory reductions mean that Arizona will lose 18% of its Colorado River reserves, or 512,000 acres of water. The amount represents 30% of the water that goes to the Central Arizona Project 8 8% of Arizona’s total water supply.

Some of that water will be replaced by water exchange, relocation from cities to irrigation areas, or water stored in Lake Mead as a kind of shell game. The state, the tribes, and others also made financial contributions to help develop groundwater infrastructure.

“We like to think we can take care of ourselves collectively,” said Tom Bushchatsky, director of the Arizona Department of Water Resources.

Smallhouse said farmers are grateful for the help, but believes there is more flexibility in the system to make cuts even easier. Although farmers are regularly criticized for the amount of water they consume, Smallhouse says the coronavirus epidemic underscores the importance of a local supply chain for meat, dairy and crops.

Some water users simply will not get the water they once had if the land reclamation bureau’s forecasts are revoked.

Disconnections occur as temperatures rise, drought intensifies its violence in the southwestern United States, drying out Lake Med more and more, and Powell Lake, the two largest man-made reservoirs in the United States, are at their lowest level since flooding. :

Along the Arizona-Nevada border, Lake Mead fell about 16 feet (4.88 meters) from this time last year. Lake Powell fell 35 feet (10.67 meters) on the Arizona-Utah border, the Reclamation Bureau said.

In Arizona, the cuts will not hit cities or people’s homes, nor will they affect the water supply through the canal system of Native Americans. Still, everyone in the desert should be concerned about water, but not panic, think about ways to live less, says Arizona State University associate professor of water law policy Reth Larson.

“The fact that you do not feel it in your tap does not mean that you will not feel it in the grocery store, as farmers in the Pinal area grow a lot of what you eat and use,” he said.


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