Colorado River in Drought's Grip

In 2014, the Lake Powell reservoir will release less water than any year since it was built.

Extreme drought in the Colorado River Basin last summer forced the federal Bureau of Reclamation, which manages river flows in the Western U.S., to make a historic announcement: For the 2014 water year (October 2013 through September 2014), the agency will reduce releases of water from Lake Powell — the gargantuan reservoir on the Colorado River that parts of Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah rely on for water — by more than 750,000 acre-feet. (An acre-foot is roughly the amount of water an American household uses in a year.) That’s the lowest release level since the reservoir began to fill in the 1960s.

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