Climate change threatens US West river despite wet winter

Fishermen who catch shoal bass in the Chipola River must throw them back. (Courtesy: EPA)
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FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — Snow swamped mountains across the U.S. West last winter, likely fending off mandated water shortages next year for states that rely on the Colorado River.

Although snow and rain swelled rivers and streams, that doesn't mean conditions are improving long term. Climate change means the region is still getting drier and hotter.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation will issue its projection Thursday for the supply from a key reservoir that feeds Colorado River water to Nevada, Arizona, California and Mexico.

After a wet winter, the agency isn't expected to require any states to take cuts to their share of water.

But Arizona, Nevada and Mexico could give up some water voluntarily in 2020 under a drought contingency plan approved this year by seven Western states that rely on the river.