New push to shore up shrinking Colorado River could reduce water flow to California
The water level of the Colorado River has dipped to the lowest level in 25 years, and the water level in the reservoir behind Lake Mead is expected to be higher than normal by a few inches.
The California Department of Water Resources is considering sending $1.2 billion into the project over two years to accelerate construction of a deep water channel to carry more water to the water state.
The state is also considering whether to raise the price of water sold to California by the federal government to as much as $6.50 per million gallons for some customers, in order to balance the deficit created by the federal drought.
Colorado River water issues were the hot topic of discussion at the annual meeting of the American Water Works Association in Denver last month, and the conference included a presentation from the state Department of Water Resources which stressed the need for an accelerated response to meet projected water demands in California.
The Colorado River supplies 70 percent of the water for use in the nine cities in the Central Valley where more than 3 million people live, but the river is expected to fall short of meeting the state’s projected needs in the next 20 years.
The drought is expected to hit California harder than previously estimated, according to the state Water Resources Control Board, which is expected to adopt a proposal for the amount of water that the state would have to buy to ensure that water flows into the Colorado River. Officials now say the state will need to buy about $4 billion a year to maintain the current level of water flowing into California.
The board approved the proposal June 23, and expects its final plans to be adopted July 1. The plan is to buy the state water by selling water to residents in the Central Valley at “prevailing rates” of $18 per thousand dollars, or about 12 cents per 100-gallon-per-month delivery.
A more rigorous market-based approach to water delivery is expected to cost the state more than $2 billion a year, according to a June