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Snowfall reduces AZ's changes for water shortage

Posted at 10:26 PM, Feb 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-10 06:51:03-05

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Some good news in the short term for water in Arizona.

At this time last year, we were in danger of the first ever shortage being declared on the Colorado River in 2017, but chances of that happening are going down.

Above average snowfall in the Rocky Mountains will lead to more runoff into the Colorado River this year. The wet winter is bringing down the chances a shortage will be declared on the river in 2017. A Tier 1 shortage happens when water levels in Lake Mead fall below 1,075 ft, currently they are at about 1,083ft. 

The Central Arizona Project delivers water from the Colorado River through Phoenix and down to Tucson.

Mitch Basefsky, a spokesperson for the Central Arizona Project, says the chances of a shortage happening in 2017 is close to 10 or 12 percent now. That is down about 30 percent from the start of winter.

"If this kind of weather keeps up, then yes we will probably squeak by once again, be one or two feet above the level where shortage will be declared. That's all we need, one or two feet," said Basefsky.

The National Weather Service is predicting a wetter-than-average rest of the winter throughout the southwest and in the Rocky Mountains.

If there is a shortage, Arizona will get 20 percent less water from the Colorado River. That will not affect municipal supplies in Tucson and Phoenix, or supplies for Native Americans. A tier 1 shortage will cut CAP water deliveries by about 30 percent to farmers who rely on the canal water.