US states are struggling to share the dwindling waters of the Colorado River

The Colorado River, which provides drinking water to 40 million people in seven US states, is drying up,

straining a water distribution agreement amid the worst drought in 12 centuries, exacerbated by climate change.

California joined six states Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming on

Tuesday in front of a US government deadline to cut their supplies or face possible mandatory cuts by the federal government.

What happened today was a step forward,  said Kevin Moran, a water policy expert at the Environmental Defense Fund.

"Six of the seven basin states are playing catch-up to reduce their use of water from the Colorado River,

which is desperately needed after 20 years of drought and the effects of climate change," Moran told Reuters.

When the states made their agreement 100 years ago, it was envisaged that the river could provide 20 million acre feet of water a year.

One acre-foot (1,233 cubic meters) of water is generally considered sufficient to supply two urban households per year.

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