Water Management – Institutional Reforms, Conservation Efforts, etc.

Water shortage in Colorado River Basin


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Major rivers of the world

Mains level: NA

The federal government in the US has declared a water shortage for the Colorado river basin due to a historic drought.

Try this PYQ

Q. Consider the following pairs

River – Flows into

  1. Mekong — Andaman Sea
  2. Thames — Irish Sea
  3. Volga — Caspian Sea
  4. Zambezi — Indian Ocean

Which of the pairs given above is/are correctly matched?(CSP 2020)

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 3 only

(c) 3 and 4 only

(d) 1, 2 and 4 only


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Colorado River

  • The Colorado River flows from the Rocky Mountains into the southwestern US and into Mexico.
  • The river is fed by snowmelt from the Rocky and Wasatch mountains and flows a distance of over 2,250 km (river Ganga flows through a distance of roughly 2,500 km) across seven states and into Mexico.
  • The Colorado River Basin is divided into the Upper (Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and northern Arizona) and Lower Basins (parts of Nevada, Arizona, California, southwestern Utah and western New Mexico).
  • In the Lower Basin, the Hoover Dam controls floods and regulates water delivery and storage.
  • Apart from the Hoover dam, there is the Davis Dam, Parker Dam and the Imperial Dam that regulate the release of water from the Hoover Dam.

Major lakes in its basin

  • Lake Mead is the largest reservoir in the US in terms of volume and was formed in the 1930s by the Hoover Dam in Southern Nevada.
  • Its main source of water is obtained from the Rocky Mountain snowmelt and runoff.
  • The other is Lake Powell, the reservoir created by the Glen Canyon Dam in Arizona.

Reasons for shortage

  • Since the year 2000, this river basin has been experiencing a prolonged drought.
  • This persistent drought has led to a lowering down of the water levels in the basin’s reservoirs to meet the demand over the years.
  • But even with great water storing capacity, over the years the demand for water from the basin has increased whereas supply is restricted.

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option c is the answer

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option c

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