More water restrictions likely as California pledges to cut use of Colorado River supply By John Katsilometes
(CNSNews.com) – The water crisis that prompted the federal government to declare a “state of emergency” will likely get worse if water conservation and state conservation measures continue as planned, said a memo issued Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. Most of the reduction in water use is likely to come from water diverted for new dams on the northern and southern ends of the Colorado River.
The memo makes the case for more water conservation, but calls on the state and conservation advocates to move more quickly to curb the use of the Colorado River as well.
The bureau, which manages water projects for 17 western states, said that over the last five years the amount of water released for diversion from rivers has increased 50 percent.
“In order for these new projects to be built, it is clear that additional water, especially from the Colorado River, must be provided and, in many instances, diverted,” the memo said.
“The state of emergency is hereby formalized,” read the bureau’s notice. “Therefore it is no longer assumed that California’s water supply will be sufficient to meet all future demand.”
The memo says that the governor signed legislation Friday that would establish a “water emergency” in the state unless the drought ends by July 1.
“The threat of another drought is an immediate and serious threat to water security and sustainability,” read the notice. “It is critical that state and federal leadership focus on the immediate and long-term solutions required to address this situation and allow California to move away from a long-term dependence on imported water.”
The memo cites conservation measures taken by the state, including the state’s “Cap and Share” program to get California into compliance with the federal Clean Water Act.
In 2003, California had nearly 200,000 miles of conservation canals; now, only 35,000 miles remain in conservation use. During that time, the state diverted water from the Colorado River at a rate of nearly 2.5 billion acre-feet – about the same as the entire flow of the river during the 1970s and 1980s.
The California Water Project, which was the