The federal government has declared a Tier 2 water shortage on the Colorado River, as the Colorado River Basin is in the midst of a 23-year drought.
The Colorado River provides water to roughly 40 million people in several states and Mexico. In addition, the water is also used to irrigate around $15 billion worth of crops in the region.
Projections from the Department of the Interior show that the water level at Lake Mead, which is the nation's largest reservoir, will be 1,050 feet above sea level in January 2023. Currently, the water level at Lake Mead is 1,040 feet, just 27% of its capacity.
The capacity at Lake Powell is currently at 26%. It is expected to fall to 23% by the end of the year.
"The system is approaching a tipping point, and without action, we cannot protect the system and the millions of Americans who rely on this resource," said Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Camille Calimlim Touton.
Several months ago, the federal government told water officials in Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming, Arizona, California, and Nevada, that they needed to cut overall water usage by two to four million acre-feet.
After the states failed to reach an agreement, the federal government announced it was instituting mandatory cuts.
Arizona will see its water allocation reduced by 21%, which is about 592,000 acre-feet. Nevada's water allocation will be cut by 8%, which equals 4,000 acre-feet. The cuts will also impact Mexico, which will see its share of the water from the Colorado River reduced by 7%.
California, which relies on the water for agriculture, will not see cuts in 2023 unless water levels in Lake Mead drop to 1,045 feet by January.