A university research group says the next president will have to act fast to help the Colorado River continue serving millions of city-dwellers, farmers, Indian tribes and recreational users in the U.S. Southwest.
A survey of decision-makers by the University of Colorado group concludes that the president who takes office in 2017 could face the prospect of Colorado River water supply cuts to Arizona and Nevada in January 2018.
The Colorado River Future Project surveyed 65 people including water managers, municipal and agricultural customers, conservationists and government officials at the tribal, state and federal levels.
The survey says most agree that contingency plans and water-use agreements must be firmed up for the seven states and Mexico that rely on river water.
The issue is complicated by an ongoing 16-year drought.