But water officials are warning that as the levels of the lakes and river continue to drop, the threat to hydroelectric production rises. While no one is predicting a failure of the facility to continue operating, many are expressing concern that it is becoming a real possibility.

To make matters worse, recent studies indicate demand for water will continue to rise while the amount of available water is likely to diminish, furthering the prospects for an environmental and social disaster. For the Southwest, water shortages in the Rio Grande basin and along the Pecos River in eastern New Mexico and the dry western reaches of Texas further complicate water problems in the region and add to the possibility of an unprecedented water shortage all across the Southwest.

When the Bureau of Reclamation report comes out this week, many are predicting it will include a shortage declaration, a clear sign the problem has elevated beyond a simple possibility to one that poses a serious threat to life in the West and Southwest.

For those that believe climate change is little more than political saber rattling, perhaps it is time to listen to the warning of Anne Castle, assistant secretary for water and science in the Department of Interior, who recently said the current circumstances on the Colorado River are “unprecedented.” She warns the last few years represent the driest period for the Colorado River since records have been kept.

Climate change or not, the potential for disaster is very real.


More articles of interest on Southwest Farm Press:

Texas faces water shortage without water plan

Current Texas drought on track to be second longest

New federal study indicates less available water for New Mexico