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Southwest water shortage expected to get worse

FOX 9's Adam Klepp spoke to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation about the current tier-one shortage

YUMA, Ariz. (KECY, KYMA) - A "Tier 1" shortage was triggered by lake mead falling below 1,075 feet of water this past year. 

This means less Colorado River water is flowing into Arizona.

Historic drought conditions are impacting critical infrastructure that provides water and power to the region, like the Hoover Dam, and Lakes Mead and Powell.

"It’s a really critical state of the system right now,” said Dan Bunk, who works for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation near Lake Mead in Nevada.

He helps manage water flows and orders into the lower Colorado River basin, and says due to high temperatures, and a historic 20-year drought, less water is coming.

"Arizona and Nevada, they both have a shortage reduction,” Bunk said.

For now, Bunk says Yuma and its agricultural industry remain unaffected by the tier one shortage. But the future is unknown.

"There’s a lot of senior water rights owners in Yuma who are not impacted by a tier-one shortage, but that could change if low inflows and the drought continues,” Bunk said.

Bunk says Lake Mead levels have continued to drop, meaning his department is projecting more water cuts in the near future.

"Right now we’re projecting a tier 2 shortage for 2023,” Bunk said.

An official decision will come this August.

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Adam Klepp

Adam Klepp is excited to start his first job in the broadcast news industry as the FOX9 at 9 anchor and as a reporter at 5 and 6 on News 11.

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