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New research suggests Wyoming will have less available water regardless of future precipitation 

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Melodie Edwards
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The Green River flows into the Flaming Gorge Reservoir, which then connects with the Colorado River. The reservoir is a crucial part of the Colorado River water system.

A new study looking at how drought might affect the Colorado River Basin projects that states like Wyoming will have less available water.

Researchers out of the Los Alamos National Lab in New Mexico explored several weather scenarios over the next 60 years in the Colorado River Basin.

They looked at both hot and dry conditions, as well as warm and wet conditions. Hydrologist Katrina Bennett said that is because climate simulations project either a more wet or more dry climate in our region, but in both cases, a general trend of warming.

What they found is that even with an increase in precipitation, the general trend of warming temperatures will mean less available water for the region.

“There's going to be increased stress just due to that background temperature increase that we are already experiencing in the Colorado River Basin,” Bennett said.

Bennett added that she hopes this research will help with mitigation and adaptation for water resources in the Colorado River Basin.

“I think previously, people have looked at that increase in precipitation, or the uncertainty and range of responses that we see and said, “Well, maybe we will be okay,”” she said.

The West has been in a drought for 20 years and the Colorado River has dropped 20 percent since the 1900s.

Caitlin Tan is the Energy and Natural Resources reporter based in Sublette County, Wyoming. Since graduating from the University of Wyoming in 2017, she’s reported on salmon in Alaska, folkways in Appalachia and helped produce 'All Things Considered' in Washington D.C. She formerly co-hosted the podcast ‘Inside Appalachia.' You can typically find her outside in the mountains with her two dogs.
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