Far more than just a Little Rascal, Alfalfa and other crops grown to feed cattle account for 46% of the water pulled from the Colorado River, a study published Thursday in Communications Earth & Environment finds. Overall, agricultural operations used 74% of the water pulled from the beleaguered river, roughly triple the combined usage of all the cities dependent upon it.

The extreme megadrought across the American West has laid bare the fundamentally unsustainable water supply and usage assumptions that long-underpinned withdrawals from the river and the new research comes as representatives from states, tribal nations, and the federal government are negotiating new rules for dealing with shortages after 2026.

“The cities that depend upon the Colorado River are doing a miraculous job of reducing their needs for that water,” lead researcher Brian Richter said. “We now need to see a commensurate reduction in agriculture’s use of the river.” (LA Times $, E&E News, High Country News, ABC, NPR, Courthouse News, CAL Matters)