Colorado River struggles with drought-related water shortage

USDA Meteorologist Brad Rippey discusses ongoing drought-related water storage issues with the Colorado River Basin and low snowpack levels in the Sierra Nevada.

In a recent overview of the American Southwest’s ongoing water shortage situation, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) Meteorologist Brad Rippey shed some light on the ongoing struggles facing the Colorado River system in maintaining adequate water storage.

Despite some recovery in the Colorado River Basins, Rippey said that as of January, storage remains at just 59% of average and 37% of total capacity. These current depreciated levels reflect decades of sub-par rainfall in the region.

This prolonged drought not only affects current water availability but also strains the capacity of the multi-state reservoir system. In his recent statement to the media, Rippey also addressed mounting concerns in California regarding the below-normal snowpack accumulation in the Sierra Nevada mountains. A concurrent problem that could also have potential impacts on the state’s water supplies.

California’s agricultural significance and population centers heavily depend on water, yet the snowpack in the Sierra Nevada stands at just half of normal levels for this time of year. However, recent storminess in early February offers some hope for improvement in the short term, although ongoing concerns persist regarding precipitation levels in California and the Southwest in the long run.

According to the Water Education Foundation, the Sierra Nevada snowpack is a crucial source, contributing nearly one-third of California’s water supply.


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