Desert dwellers may be more aware than many how precious water is.
In the Desert Southwest, living in dry conditions isn’t unusual. But we have been experiencing extreme drought for 20 years with burgeoning issues caused by climate change. Wildfires, lake levels dropping, extreme heat, and dwindling wildlife populations are only some of the problems.
But awareness is increasing, primarily due to the work of organizations and businesses such as Arizona State University’s Kyl Center for Water Policy, Salt River Project, Western Resource Advocates, Friends of the Verde River and now, the L. Alan Cruikshank River of Time Museum & Exploration Center. Our mission is to engage, entertain, educate, and inspire people about the Lower Verde River Valley, the river that runs through it, and the life water brings to the desert.
Cuts are Coming
While we have been fortunate to turn on a faucet, and voila! water appears, for decades we have given water and its availability little thought. But in recent years, and especially recent months, drought conditions have been brought to the fore. The federal government reduced Arizona’s Colorado River water allocation by 592,000 acre-feet beginning in 2023, representing 21% of its usual delivery. That is an increase of 80,000 acre-feet from 2022 cuts. The state took the deepest cut.
The Colorado River basin serves seven states: Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming, Arizona, California, and Nevada. The basin’s waters are allocated on the terms of a century-old agreement from when there was substantially more water in the river, according to an Aug. 16, 2022, article in The Hill.
Can We Turn the Tide?
Water levels in the Colorado River’s two reservoirs, Lake Mead and Lake Powell, have been decreasing, resulting in cuts to states’ allocations. By ignoring these radical occurrences, we will soon not be able to mitigate the crises. The River of Time aims to educate, inform, and create programs to help people understand the seriousness of these issues. The coming year is vitally important for the Center.
Numerous resources are available to increase awareness about water shortages, mitigation measures, legislation and ongoing changes occurring in our area, as well as in the rest of the world. It is incumbent on all of us to do what we can to conserve water and remain vigilant about the care and keeping of our most precious substance.