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Emails reveal tensions in Colorado River talks

A voluntary deal last summer on how to drastically cut water use from the stressed Colorado River was thwarted due to competing priorities, outsized demands and the federal government's retreat from a threatened deadline. That's according to emails obtained by The Associated Press that largely cover communication among water officials in Arizona and California.

The documents depict a desire to reach a consensus, as well as disagreement over how much each state could or should give. As a mid-August deadline approached and ultimately passed without a deal, one email warned: “We're all headed to a very dark place.”

The states have since regrouped and are trying to reach a bargain by Tuesday. The alternative is having the federal government dictate cuts.

Meanwhile, researchers estimate more than 10% of the water carried by the Colorado River evaporates, leaks or spills as it flows through the region’s dams, reservoirs and open-air canals. For decades, water shares have gone to Arizona, California, Nevada and Mexico without subtracting what’s lost to evaporation.