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Colorado River Basin

Colorado River Basin Current Conditions

Drought & Dryness Categories
% of Colorado River Basin
0
0
0
0
0
0
Percent of Normal Precipitation (%)
100%
Departure from Normal Max Temperature (°F)
0

Recent Precipitation & Temperature Conditions

Precipitation Conditions

Inches of Precipitation
Percent of Normal Precipitation (%)
100%
Percent of Normal Precipitation (%)
100%

Temperature Conditions

Maximum Temperature (°F)
60
Departure from Normal Max Temperature (°F)
0
Departure from Normal Max Temperature (°F)
0

Agriculture in Colorado River Basin

U.S. Drought Monitor
U.S. Drought Monitor
U.S. Drought Monitor
U.S. Drought Monitor
U.S. Drought Monitor

Crop Production (Acres) or Livestock Count

A circle with the radius of 20 pixels identifies:
> 500,000
A circle with the radius of 16 pixels identifies:
> 300,000
A circle with the radius of 12 pixels identifies:
> 100,000
A circle with the radius of 8 pixels identifies:
≤ 100,000

2,297,893
acres of hay (estimated) in drought (D1–D4)
285,114
acres of wheat (estimated) in drought (D1–D4)
195,074
acres of cotton (estimated) in drought (D1–D4)
966,549
number of sheep (estimated) in drought (D1–D4)
942,487
number of cattle (estimated) in drought (D1–D4)
Water Supply in Colorado River Basin

Streamflow Conditions
Streamflow Conditions
Predicted Inches of Precipitation
1.75
Probability of Below-Normal Precipitation
100%
Probability of Above-Normal Precipitation
100%
Probability of Near-Normal Precipitation
50%

20
percent of streamflow sites are below normal
27
percent of streamflow sites are above normal
8
percent of the Colorado River Basin has below-normal precipitation probability this month
0
percent of the Colorado River Basin has above-normal precipitation probability this month
Soil Moisture in Colorado River Basin

20 cm Soil Moisture Percentile
70
100
0–100 cm Soil Moisture Percentile
70
100

Historical Conditions for the Colorado River Basin

U.S. Drought Monitor

The U.S. Drought Monitor (2000–present) depicts the location and intensity of drought across the country. Every Thursday, authors from NOAA, USDA, and the National Drought Mitigation Center produce a new map based on their assessments of the best available data and input from local observers. The map uses five categories: Abnormally Dry (D0), showing areas that may be going into or are coming out of drought, and four levels of drought (D1–D4). Learn more.

Drought in the Colorado River Basin

Reliance on Colorado River Water Resources

The Colorado River provides water to almost 40 million people in two countries, seven states, 29 federally recognized Indian tribes, and 4 million acres of farmland. According to a University of Arizona study, the Colorado River supports $1.4 trillion in annual economic activityequivalent to 1/12th of total U.S. gross domestic productand 16 million jobs in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. Since 2000, historically dry conditions have added stress to the Colorado River’s already over-allocated water resources.

Story Map: Drought in the Colorado River Basin

Since 2000, the Colorado River basin has been experiencing a historic, extended drought that has impacted regional water supply and other resources, such as hydropower, recreation, and ecological goods and services services.

Learn more about the current 16-year drought and its effects on the Colorado River basin through this story map, which was created by the U.S. Geological Survey and the Bureau of Reclamation.

Colorado Basin River Forecast Center

View river, snow, and reservoir conditions; forecasts of temperature, precipitation, water supply and peak flows; soil moisture conditions and other data, maps, and tools for the Colorado River through the National Weather Service Colorado Basin River Forecast Center (CBRFC).

The CBRFC is responsible for monitoring and forecasting climate conditions for the entire Colorado River basin and the Great Basin, covering an area of 303,450 square miles.

Colorado River Interim Guidelines and the Drought Contingency Plan

Since 2008, Lake Mead and Lake Powell have been operated in accordance with the 2007 Record of Decision for the Colorado River Interim Guidelines for Lower Basin Shortages and the Coordinated Operations for Lake Powell and Lake Mead. The Guidelines define operating procedures during drought and low reservoir conditions to minimize shortages in the Lower Colorado basin and avoid the risk of curtailment in the Upper Colorado basin. These Guidelines remain in effect through 2025. In advance of negotiating new Guidelines, in 2020 the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation issued a report on an assessment of effectiveness of the Guidelines. A key conclusion of the report was that “increasing severity of the drought necessitated additional action to reduce the risk of reaching critically low elevations in Lakes Powell and Mead.”

In addition, to reduce the risk of Lake Powell and Lake Mead declining to critically low levels, in December 2017, the U.S. Department of the Interior called on the seven Colorado River basin states to put drought contingency plans in place before the end of 2018. Congress approved the plan submitted by the states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming as the Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan Authorization Act on April 16, 2019.

Lake Mead showing low water levels