Anne Castle, a senior fellow for the University of Colorado and lead researcher for the Colorado River Future Project, has issued a warning to the new Presidential Administration: the Colorado River cannot meet the current needs of 35 million westerners and cuts likely must be made. 
According to the team’s research, and confirmed by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the new administration could be faced with having to order the first-ever water shortage declaration. This would mean significant reductions in deliveries to Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, and California. Without implementing any restrictions or hardline conservation methods, federal models have shown a 48 percent chance that these states would face supply shortages beginning in 2018. 
“This really is a critical time. Action is required. We’re closer to the edge than we ever have been,” Castle said in an interview with the Denver Post. 
Interviewing more than 65 water policy experts, Castle’s report details an imbalance in water rights between cities and agriculture that has lasted for decades. Due to the region’s inability to maintain a resilient supply of water, future developments within the region have been jeopardized. More than thirty-five million people in seven western states rely on the Colorado River for water. On average, population growth within this region has continued at nearly 14% per decade; faster than the overall national rate of 10%.
Castle points to the next 12 months as key to the future survival of the region’s most important water source. “What we are noticing is that a confluence of events in the next 12 months will have a big influence on the ability of that river to continue to provide a reliable supply for the river basin that has grown up relying on it.” 
Published 1/31/2016 Finley, Bruce. Feds may order first cuts in water from Colorado River; CU team issues warning to next president. The Denver Post, November 5, 2016. Web. http://www.denverpost.com/2016/11/05/colorado-river-water-cuts