Climate change and growing demand for water in the West have combined to deplete the Colorado River to a historic low, and now a more mundane glitch is compounding the supply problem: faulty plumbing.

Antiquated pipes will impede efforts to channel water through the Glen Canyon Dam and to the three lower basin states of Nevada, Colorado and California as reservoir levels drop to critical lows — possibly putting New Mexico and its upper basin partners in a legal bind, according to a coalition of nonprofit groups.

Lake Powell is on the verge of falling below the minimum water level — 3,490 feet — needed to power turbines that generate electricity for 5 million homes, and when that happens it must funnel water through a different set of aging pipes that are unable to meet the task, the coalition’s representatives told reporters Wednesday at an online news conference.



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