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Environment / Colorado Edition
Throughout the history of the American West, water issues have shown their ability to both unite and divide communities. As an imbalance between water supplies and demands grows in the region, KUNC is committed to covering the stories that emerge.

Q&A: David Arend talks Colorado River basin challenges

Lake Mead Tower
Alex Hager
White "bathtub rings" show dropping levels on Lake Mead. The reservoir's stores have been dipping steadily, setting records for new all-time lows.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation's newly-appointed deputy regional director for the lower basin speaks about the road ahead for the shrinking river.

Dave Arend.jpg
Courtesy of U.S. Bureau of Reclamation
David Arend, newly-appointed deputy regional director for the lower basin.

As the Colorado River shrinks at the hands of a two-decades-long drought, there’s a lot on the line. The water supply for 40 million people, agriculture, wildlife and hydropower generation are all hanging in the balance as the region grapples with a dwindling river.

The federal agency most involved with the Colorado River and water in the West is the Bureau of Reclamation. The agency’s measurements and actions can lead headlines throughout the region — including the shortage declaration that raised national alarm last August.

David Arend, a 20-year veteran of the bureau, was recently appointed as its new deputy regional director for the lower basin. After specializing in hydropower for the past two decades, he’ll oversee a region that includes portions of Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and California.

As he steps into the role, Arend spoke with KUNC’s Alex Hager about the challenges ahead.