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Colorado River Reservoir at 40% capacity, lowest level ever

CBS 13's April Hettinger dives into the forecast of the ongoing drought

YUMA, Ariz. (KYMA, KECY) - It's no secret the Colorado River Basin is experiencing one of its worst droughts in record history.

Now, hydrologists are minimizing water usage next year.

Lake Mead and Lake Powell are at their lowest water elevation levels ever, and it's only expected to get worse as we head into 2022, according to Wade Noble, who serves on the general council for four of Yuma's irrigation districts.

"Drought is not something that man, historically, has ever dealt with successfully," Noble explained. "You can prolong or postpone the impacts of drought, but at some point, if it doesn't rain or snow, you simply don't have the water."

The water shortage has prompted the river's first ever water reduction.

Now, adjustments are being made to the salton sea's 10-year plan.

"Water levels at the Salton Sea are mainly dependent on how much water into Imperial Valley," Noble said. "The Imperial Irrigation District has a large water entitlement, and it is the water that drains off or runs off of those 450,000 acres that feeds the Salton Sea."

The entire Colorado River Reservoir is only at 40% capacity, and water experts hope that we'll see more precipitation in the next few years.

"We had a tremendous summer as far as water is concerned," Noble explained. "The Salt River Project got as much water this summer as they did from all of the winter that preceded it."

This monsoon season was helpful, but that was only a droplet compared to the considerable loss of snow runoff.

"We need years of increased snow," Noble stated. "Not just one good year."

Central Arizona's agriculture will be the first affected by these water cuts, losing about 60% of their water.

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April Hettinger

April was born and raised in San Diego where she loved the beach town and her two dogs, Lexi and Malibu. She decided to trade the beach for the snow and advanced her education at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff.


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