The Southwest prepares for possible first Water Shortage Declaration


El Paso, TX (KTSM) — The Borderland saw showers over the weekend, but nothing to actually bring relief from dangerously dry conditions. This is leading the southwest to prepare for a possible first-ever Water Shortage Declaration.

“The effect of the drought up until this point most definitely is taking its toll,” Meteorologist Jason Laney told KTSM 9 News.

Our exceptional drought, which stands at a level D-4, could trigger the federal government’s first-ever Official Water Shortage Declaration.

“Something many of us have noticed is that many of the plants in our own backyards have been suffering,” added Laney.

Experts continue to blame climate change.

“We also need to think about our infrastructure in the context of transportation, cars — larger vehicles are a significant contributor,” Michael Regan, an administrator with the EPA, explained on The Today Show.

The warning comes from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation after it was reported that less snowpack flowing into the river and hotter temperatures are causing more river water to evaporate.

This would leave cities in Arizona, New Mexico and far west Texas to suffer as millions depend on man-made lakes like Elephant Butte for water.

Those exact lakes are projected to shrink to historic lows in the coming months.

“Unfortunately when we look at our snow pact, which is where the water comes from and goes into Elephant Butte … it is well below normal (for) this time,” Laney said.

Elephant Butte is currently at a worrisome 8-percent to 10-percent capacity.

Federal officials regularly issue long-term projections but use those released each August to make decisions about how to allocate river water.

If projections do not improve by then, the Bureau of Reclamation will declare a Level 1 Shortage Condition and the cuts would be implemented in January.

For local and breaking news, weather alerts, video and more, download the FREE KTSM 9 News App from the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.