Study: Water evaporation poses new threat to Colorado River Basin

The study’s findings have sent ripples of concern through communities reliant on the Colorado River for irrigation, highlighting the vulnerability of water resources in the face of climate variability.

A recent Bureau of Reclamation study on the Colorado River System reveals a concerning trend: approx. 1.3 million acre-feet of water evaporates annually from the Colorado River between Lake Mead and the U.S.-Mexico border. This revelation has ignited discussions on water management practices in a region already grappling with the impacts of a persistent drought, particularly as current guidelines governing the river’s usage expire in 2026.

The study’s findings have sent ripples of concern through communities reliant on the Colorado River for irrigation, highlighting the vulnerability of water resources in the face of climate variability. The issue of evaporation poses a persistent challenge — despite the recent improvements in hydrological conditions reducing the immediate threat of critically-low water levels in Lake Mead; and the respite of marked progress in terms of stakeholder agreements over water management of the basin.

For farmers and agricultural stakeholders in the region, the prospect of increased water loss exacerbates existing concerns about water availability for irrigation purposes. With Colorado River water serving as a lifeline for agricultural productivity in the area, the impact of evaporation could have far-reaching consequences on crop yields and livelihoods.

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