Big cities that depends on The Colorado River

One of the principal rivers that encompass nine states is currently in danger of drought.

The Colorado River got its name from the Spanish language. The name directly translates into “coloured reddish”. However, due to the impacts of climate change, the river no longer possesses its bright red appearance. It is now barely full and soon will dry out.

To understand more about the impacts of the Colorado River drying out, let’s talk about the big cities that will be affected once this happens.

Cities reliant on the Colorado River for water supply.
Cities reliant on the Colorado River for water supply.

General Information Of Where The Colorado River Flows

The Colorado River is the primary water source of the Southwestern United States and Northern Mexico for centuries now. It flows generally west and south for about 2,330 kilometres.

The Colorado River’s flow starts in the La Poudre Pass Lake. This is one of the many lakes of the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Then it proceeds to flow across the Colorado Plateau, which is a desert region near the Four Corners of the southwestern United States.

It moves forward through the famous Grand Canyon and Lake Mead on the Arizona-Nevada border.

The river then turns south and approaches the international border, and then it enters Mexico. The Colorado River ends at the Gulf of California, a gulf that’s more commonly known as the Sea of Cortez.

Big Cities That Are Affected

Las Vegas

The state of Nevada has the smallest apportionment of the Colorado River. However, 1.8% of its water allocation will still make a big impact once the river dries up.

The well-known city of Las Vegas is still heavily dependent on the river. It relies on the Colorado River not just for its water supply but also as a hydropower source. 

The Hoover Dam located in the Colorado River is where the hydroelectric power that supplies multiple states comes from. This dam produces 4 billion kilowatt-hours of power each year.

As the Colorado River dries up, cities like Las Vegas will experience a power shortage. This produces a big impact on multiple tourist attractions that make Las Vegas what it is. Hundreds of casinos in Sin City will feel the impact. 


The city of Phoenix also sources its energy from the Hoover Dam, but the greatest impact of the river’s drought is on its agriculture.

In 2022, the farmers of Phoenix lost 60% of their access to the Colorado River. It then resulted in wasted and no-good harvests.

And on the first day of 2023, all farmers lost their complete access to the water source. In the long run, this will result in food shortage.

Los Angeles

The drought of the Colorado River leads Los Angeles into both food and electricity shortages in the next following years.

Because of this, two of their water districts continuously negotiate for voluntary cuts of the Colorado River. They hope for a special allocation for farmers to avoid food shortages.


As a city in Colorado itself, you may already imagine what Denver is going through in this crisis.

The Colorado River is what made 5 million acres of farmland in Denver possible. Without it, the word “food shortage” is not enough to describe what the people of Denver will experience.

The Colorado River drying up due to climate change only indicates that Denver’s other sources of water are also in danger.

San Diego

The city of San Diego is expecting a huge power shortage bigger than they are already experiencing.

San Diego has many pristine beaches. However, the city won’t be the same without sufficient drinking water, irrigation, and power.

Not to mention, its parks and zoos are full of hundreds of animals. The shortages certainly wouldn’t be good news for them.