“The drought no one thought would even happen is here.”

From the Denver Post

Lake Powell, the desert oasis that has served Colorado as a crucial fail-safe for water deliveries throughout the Southwest during five years of hard drought, is now more than half empty.

If the drought persists a year or two more, the 186-mile-long reservoir in Utah and Arizona could be drained dry as early as 2007, federal officials say.

That would propel Colorado – and 30 million other Westerners who depend on the Colorado River for their drinking water – into an uncertain future punctuated by recurring water shortages and decades of litigation, experts warn.

On Friday, the Bureau of Reclamation said it expects only 55 percent of the normal runoff to flow into Lake Powell between April and July. That guarantees the big reservoir, already down to 42 percent of capacity, will recede even further by 2005.

“Time is running out,” said Pat Mulroy, director of the Southern Nevada Water Authority. “The drought no one thought would even happen is here.”

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