As the federal government declared the first water shortage on the Colorado River, farmers from Arizona would be the most affected sector when mandatory water cutbacks would be issued next year.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation declared the water shortage on the Colorado River on Monday. The bureau said it would also reduce the allotments of water in the state of Nevada as well as Mexico.

The bureau noted that the water shortage was triggered by the rapid decline of Lake Mead, which stores water used by Nevada, Arizona, California, and Mexico. The western U.S. is in the grip of a severe, historic drought, especially in California and the Southwest.

Deputy Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation Camille Touton said the announcement highlights the value of "collaborative agreements" about the water management with seven Colorado River Basin states - Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming - and Mexico.

Nearly 40 million people rely on the Colorado River and its tributaries for their municipal water needs. 

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Arizona Farmers Affected on the Colorado River Water Shortage

Farmers in part of central Arizona, who will face significant cutbacks in water deliveries next year, are preparing for the water supplies to be entirely shut off in 2023.

Citing federal guidelines for shortages brokered in 2019, The Verge reported that Arizona would lose 18 percent of its annual allotment of water from Lake Mead, a reservoir built on the Colorado River.

Nevada would lose seven percent of their yearly water apportionment, and Mexico would lose five percent of their allotment.

The said water cuts would be the largest to date in the river, which would shrink the water flow through the Central Arizona Project Canal, a watercourse that supplied water to Arizona's growing desert communities and farmlands for more than three decades.

Furthermore, the water cutbacks would also force farmers in Pinal County, Arizona, to eventually leave some parts of their fields unplanted and dry. However, USA Today reported that the state would provide funds to help local irrigation districts to drill wells and pump for more groundwater.

"I think it means that we're in an all-hands-on-deck situation. And we have to figure out how we get along with less Colorado River water coming into the state," said Sarah Porter, director of the Kyl Center for Water Policy at Arizona State University.

Colorado River's Water Level

The announcement was based on projected reservoir levels over the next two years, particularly at Lake Mead and Lake Powell.

Officials noted that even bigger cuts are projected in 2023, which means some Arizona cities could also begin to see their water deliveries cut.

The Reclamation underscored that the upper basin of the Colorado River experienced a dry spring in 2021, with Lake Powell totaling just 26 percent of average.

In total, the Colorado River system storage today is at 40 percent of capacity, which is down from 49 percent at the same time last year.

"Like much of the west, and across our connected basin, the Colorado River is facing unprecedented and accelerating challenges," said Assistant Secretary for Water and Science Tanya Trujillo.

Trujillo added that the only way to address the challenges was to use the "best available science," and work cooperatively across landscapes and communities that rely on the Colorado River.

READ MORE: Mexico's Drought Worsens, Now Affects 85% Of the Country

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Written By: Joshua Summers

WATCH: First-Ever Federal Water Shortage Declaration for the Colorado River - From KTNV Channel 13 Las Vegas