Federal water managers are projecting Lake Mead will drop to levels in January 2017 that could force supply cuts to Arizona and Nevada.
Arizona's water allocation could be cut 11.4 percent and Nevada's by about 4.3 percent.
A closely watched U.S. Bureau of Reclamation report released Monday predicts water levels will be just 2 feet above a trigger point next January on the Colorado River reservoir supplying much of the Southwest's drinking water.
The so-called interim guidelines chart a decline leading to a declaration of a shortage the following year.
Drought is a universally understood phenomenon — especially here in the arid Southwest. But what does drought really mean? To help define the term, and the concept, scientists use several commonly used drought indices. Each summarizes thousands of data points on rainfall and other information into a single handy number.
Across the Southwest more and more bears have shown up in people’s kitchens, garages and flower beds. Wildlife officials in Colorado say in that state alone they had to euthanize 133 “problem bears” last year. And in Arizona at least a dozen bears have been euthanized, and scores of sightings have many people rattled.
A place with one of the harshest climates in the Southwest –- Phoenix -- records more days over 100 degrees than any other major city in the country. But climate models predict metro Phoenix, with its population of four million, will get hotter.
Here in John Larsala’s driveway, the view is bleak.
“You see our tree is dead,” Larsala said. “All these trees are dying because I can’t put water on it.”
The grass is dead too. In fact, there is no grass anymore.