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Arizona Water Supply Issues Continue

Federal officials are warning that the West's water crisis could put some Arizona communities' health and safety at risk by cutting off their supply of drinking water. 

The U.S. Department of the Interior’s letter states:

“In light of the continuing drought and low runoff conditions, in recent weeks technical staff from the Bureau of Reclamation, along with Interior leadership, have communicated our concerns with projected runoff in the Colorado River Basin and the risk of Lake Powell and Lake Mead declining to critically-low elevations over the next 24 months.”

Staff from the Bureau of Reclamation and the Upper Division States are working closely with the Lower Division States, Tribes, other federal agencies, and NGOs to complete a 2022 Drought Response Operations Plan, added the letter. 

The 2022 Drought Response Operations Plan will be finalized within the month.

If Lake Powell's levels continue to fall, access to drinking water would be cut off for the 7,500 residents of Page. This is at the southwestern tip of the reservoir and also impacts the neighboring Navajo community of LeChee, reported 12 News.

"This is really getting to (be) a health and safety issue...the health and safety of those who want to turn on the tap and have water," said Tom Buschatzke, Arizona's director of water resources in an interview, reported 12 News. "I never thought this day would come this quickly. But I think we always knew that this day was potentially out there. We're going to have to learn to live with less water.”

“We believe that additional actions are needed to reduce the risk of Lake Powell dropping to elevations at which Glen Canyon Dam releases could only be accomplished through the river outlet works (i.e., below elevation 3490" mean sea level (msl), or hydropower operations infrastructure at Glen Canyon Dam would be adversely impacted (i.c., as reservoir elevations decline towards elevation 3490" msl). In such circumstances, Glen Canyon Dam facilities face unprecedented operational reliability challenges, water users in the Basin face increased uncertainty, downstream resources could be impacted, the western electrical grid would experience uncertain risk and instability, and water and power supplies to the West and Southwestern U.S. would be subject to increased operational uncertainty.”

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