Arizona may be facing its first official declaration of water shortage next year, a move that would trigger water cutbacks of 512,000 acre-feet — almost 20% of Arizona’s Colorado River entitlement — affecting mainly agricultural users.
The 24-Month Study on the Colorado River system, released this month by the Bureau of Reclamation, projects that in June water levels in Lake Mead will fall below 1,075 feet for the first time, which would put the state in a Tier 1 shortage.
A Tier 1 shortage, which is highly likely for 2022 and 2023, would mean a reduction of about 30% of the Central Arizona Project’s delivery supply, but the shortage wouldn’t be declared until officials see the August 24-Month Study, which they use to make water allocation decisions.
The state is currently operating in Tier 0, where CAP takes a 192,000 acre-foot reduction to its water supply. One acre-foot, enough water to cover an acre a foot deep, provides three Phoenix area households with water a year.