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Biden admin places water restrictions on southwestern states during water shortage

Arizona will only receive 18% of its annual water apportionment, with Nevada receiving just 7%.

Updated: August 16, 2021 - 8:07pm

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The Biden administration's Bureau of Reclamation announced the first water shortage declaration for the lower Colorado River Basin and Lake Mead on Monday, causing water reduction for Arizona and Nevada.

An unusually dry spring this year left the Colorado River total system storage at 40% capacity, which is a 49% reduction from this time last year, the bureau said in a statement.

"Like much of the West, and across our connected basins, the Colorado River is facing unprecedented and accelerating challenges," said Assistant Secretary for Water and Science Tanya Trujillo. "The only way to address these challenges and climate change is to utilize the best available science and to work cooperatively across the landscapes and communities that rely on the Colorado River. That is precisely the focus of the White House Interagency Drought Working Group—a multi-agency partnership created to collaborate with States, Tribes, farmers and communities impacted by drought and climate change to build and enhance regional resilience."

Based on water projections, the Bureau of Reclamation said Lake Mead will operate under shortage status for the first time in history during the calendar year of 2022. Arizona will receive 18% of its annual apportionment in water, with Nevada receiving 7% and Mexico, 5%.

The Biden administration's decision to reduce water supply to Arizona will hurt farmers in the state during a midterm election year, when Sen. Mark Kelly (D) is up for reelection.

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