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Projects to divert more water from the Colorado River continue

As snowpack from the Colorado River decreases, Arizona’s major reservoirs are at all-time lows. But that hasn’t stopped projects to divert more water from the river’s flow.

Although estimates of the Colorado River’s flow point to a drier future, there are still a number of projects on the drawing board for new dams, diversions or pipelines in Upper Basin states.

Those projects could make it difficult to keep water in Lake Powell and Lake Mead.

Gary Wockner of the environmental nonprofit Save the Colorado says the federal government could intervene but has not so far.

“You know the upper Basin states are kind of in this mad rush to get any project built or online as fast as possible before the federal government comes in and shuts it all down,” Wockner said.

The Bureau of Reclamation recently gave the states until August to come up with a plan to conserve water, which could mean an end to new projects.

Current diversion projects

Lake Powell Pipeline
Location: Utah
Acre feet: 86,000
Status: Permitting process occurring now in Department of Interior. Other permits will be required.

Windy Gap firming project
Location: Colorado
Acre feet: 30,000
Status: Being built.

Ron Dungan was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2020 to 2024.