US West Faces Reckoning Over Water But Avoids Cuts For Now
The white rings that wrap around two massive lakes in the U.S. West are a stark reminder of how water levels are dropping and a warning that the 40 million people who rely on the Colorado River face a much drier future.
Amid prolonged drought and climate change in a region that's only getting thirstier, when that reckoning will arrive - and how much time remains to prepare for it - is still a guess.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is expected to release projections Friday that suggest Lake Powell and Lake Mead will dip slightly in 2021. That determines how much water flows to cities and farms in seven states. Despite the dip, Lake Mead's levels are expected to stay above the threshold that triggers mandatory water cuts to Arizona and Nevada, giving officials throughout the Southwest more time to prepare for a future when the flow will slow.