(Reuters) – US officials on Monday issued an official statement of shortages for the huge Lake Mead reservoir in the west of the country for the first time, causing water shortages for the drought-stricken southwestern region.
The shortage will reduce water supplies to Arizona, Nevada and Mexico for the year starting in October, the US government said in a statement.
Arizona will lose 18% of its annual supply, while Nevada will have a 7% cut. Transfers to Mexico will be reduced by 5%.
Lake Mead, formed in the 1930s with the Colorado River damming the border between Nevada and Arizona, is the largest reservoir in the United States and is crucial to providing water to 25 million people in the cities of Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, Tucson and Las Vegas.
Severe drought in the Western United States has brought Lakes Mead and Powell, the nation’s first and second reservoirs, to historic lows. Total water storage in the Colorado River system is at 40% of capacity, down from 49% last year, according to the federal agency.
Transfers of water in a given year are defined by an annual study that anticipates water levels in reservoirs in winter. In January, Lake Mead is expected to be 324.9 meters, about 3 meters below the official scarcity level.
(Reporting by Nichola Groom in Los Angeles)
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