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Drop In Colorado River Levels Could Affect SoCal Water Supply

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Colorado River's Horseshoe Bend | Photo by Matt York/AP

Whenever water levels in Colorado drop, that can drastically affect us here in Southern California. Since we get a large chunk of our water from the Colorado River, if it runs dry, that's bad news for not only California but Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico and Wyoming.

The river provides drinking water, power and recreation for at least 40 million people in the Western states, according to the Associated Press.

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Representatives of water agencies from each of those states met today with Anne Castle, Assistant Interior Secretary for Water and Science, CBS reports. The San Diego meeting was designed to prevent a projected shortage in the Colorado River basin in 2016.

Shortages might happen sooner than that: Castle told KNX that the river’s largest reservoirs—Lake Mead near Las Vegas and Lake Powell near Page, Arizona— are expected to drop to 45 percent capacity by this September.

“This is something that we can’t wait around and see what happens, we’ve got to take action now,” Castle told the radio station. “We’re facing a real possibility of shortages in the Colorado River basin.”

A new report shows 2013 will likely be the fourth-driest year on record, while 2012 was the fifth-driest in 100 years, Castle said.

“You can see it if you look at Lake Mead, where the water levels are down considerably from a full pool, you can see that white bathtub ring around the rim of the lake,” said Castle. If the current trends continue, in the next 45 years, the West could lose enough water to supply 5 million homes.

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Today's meeting comes two months after a report by the advocacy group American Rivers called the Colorado River the most endangered waterway in the nation, AP reports.