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Colorado River Board of California officials discuss drought

Officials in charge of distributing water from the Colorado River met to decide on priorities and conservation measures.
March 12, 2014 12:00:00 AM PDT
The Colorado River provides water for seven western states, and despite recent storms, water levels at its reservoirs are still low.

"We are going through a historic drought. The current drought is more severe than any on record in the last 100 years," said Bill Hasencamp with the Metropolitan Water District.

California gets more water from the Colorado River than any other state. It comes into Southern California through the Colorado River Aqueduct, but right now Lake Powell is only at 39 percent capacity and Lake mead is at 48 percent capacity.

"We're coming off of a 14-year drought that has decreased reservoir levels to about 50 percent right now," said Tanya Trujillo, executive director of the Colorado River Board of California.

At a Colorado River Board meeting, officials discussed the needs of competing interests in the state. Farmers and cities all want the same precious resource.

"The agricultural entities tend to have the first rights to water, so they are first in line. So we need to have productive discussions with them to share the water," said Hasencamp.

Officials say the state would need heavy rain from now until May just to get to average annual rainfall. They are asking for people to conserve.

"The drought is likely to be here a long time on the Colorado River, so we need it to be not just a short-term action but a long-term change in the way of life," said Hasencamp.

There is also concern over our underground aquifers. That's why the state is not only working to conserve water, but also looking at ways to store it for the future.

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