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Water Shortage

GOING DRY A white ring shows how far the water level has fallen at Lake Mead, in Arizona and Nevada, on July 1. DAVID MCNEW—GETTY IMAGES

The United States government has declared a water shortage on the Colorado River. The announcement came on August 16. The shortage is the result of a drought in the Southwest. Scientists say it is one of the worst droughts in 1,200 years.

The Colorado River supplies water to homes and farms. Starting next year, the amount of water supplied to Arizona, Nevada, and parts of Mexico will be reduced. Farmers in Arizona will see the biggest decreases, about 20%.

Water from melting snowcaps is drying up before it reaches the river. That’s because of extreme hot weather. Lake Mead is the largest reservoir on the Colorado River. When the year ends, it may only be 34% full. If its levels continue to fall, the government could cut the water supply even further.

Tanya Trujillo works for the U.S. Department of the Interior. She says local communities will have to work together to conserve resources. “Now is the time to take action,” she says.

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