Rising Temps, Demand Could Sink Colorado River: Today's Pic

Photographer: Ronda Churchill/Bloomberg

Construction on part of the Hoover Dam Bypass, over the Colorado River near Boulder City, Nevada, in 2009. Close

Construction on part of the Hoover Dam Bypass, over the Colorado River near Boulder... Read More

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Photographer: Ronda Churchill/Bloomberg

Construction on part of the Hoover Dam Bypass, over the Colorado River near Boulder City, Nevada, in 2009.

The Colorado River could lose 10 percent of its volume in the next few decades from rising temperatures and higher demand. Such a change would be enough to throw off the West's precarious balance of water-use agreements that allow Denver, Tucson, Los Angeles and California's Imperial Valley to draw from the same basin.

"It may not sound like a phenomenally large amount except the water and the river is already over-allocated," said Richard Seager, a climate scientist at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and lead author of a new study in the journal Nature Climate Change.

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