The state missed the deadline for the water cut deal

The Hoover Dam water intake tower on Lake Mead, the nation’s largest man-made reservoir formed by a dam on the Colorado River in the southwestern United States, has been dropping 2 inches (26 feet in a year) every day since February. Shown at about 25% capacity on July 12, 2022 near Boulder City, Nevada. (Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)

George Rose | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Seven states that depend on the drought-hit Colorado River failed to meet a January 31 federal deadline to sign a pact to voluntarily reduce water use. Drought and record low reservoir levels.

After negotiations stalled, six of the seven states that depend on the Colorado River have instead outlined ways to reduce water use, accounting for water lost to evaporation and leaky infrastructure. I submitted the proposal to the Bureau of Development.

a proposal titledAlternatives to consensus-based modeling,” jointly submitted by Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.

The proposal specifically excluded California, the largest user of the Colorado River, which supplies water to 40 million people. Officials said states will announce their own plans.

Six state documents outline approaches to help protect infrastructure, water supplies, and power production at Glen Canyon and Hoover Dams and prevent Colorado River reservoirs from reaching ‘dead pool’ . Do not go downstream from the dam.

The Colorado River has long been overallocated, but climate change has exacerbated drought conditions in the region, causing reservoir levels to plummet in the last few decades. As the western United States experiences its driest 20 years, in at least 1,200 yearswater levels in Lake Mead and Lake Powell, the country’s two largest reservoirs, have reached record lows.

Sarah Porter, director of the Kyle Center for Water Policy at Arizona State University, said the state’s proposal is a “very good faith effort” to advance negotiations on water cuts and keep reservoirs from dropping to dangerous levels. said that it appeared to be

“It’s easy to overlook how difficult and complicated this is for all states,” Porter said. “We need to get the water out of the system and this is the toughest negotiation.”

Water officials stressed that the proposal is not a formal agreement between states, but an important step toward protecting the Colorado River and ultimately reaching a seven-state agreement.

“As we continue to seek collaborative solutions to stabilize the Colorado River system, this modeling proposal will progress among the seven basin states,” Arizona Water Resources Director Tom Buschatzke said in a statement. It is an important step in the medium dialogue.

But it’s the second time in six months that the seven states that use the Colorado River’s water have passed the deadline to agree to cuts under the Department of the Interior, which manages the river’s flow.

Historically, it was the state that figured out how to share the water of the Colorado River. However, the federal government could be held liable if no agreement is reached on the cuts.

A spinach field irrigated with water from the Colorado River in Imperial Valley, California on December 5, 2022.

Caitlin Ox | Reuters

The Biden administration has asked seven states to save two to four million acre-feet of water, or up to one-third of the river’s average flow. For comparison, California is entitled to 4.4 million acre feet of river water annually and Arizona is entitled to 2.8 million acre feet of river water annually. (One acre foot of water is equivalent to what two average households consume each year.)

Arizona so far bear the brunt Government water cuts have particularly affected farmers in the state, who grow crops in the desert and use nearly three-quarters of the available water supply to irrigate their crops.

Alternatives outlined by six states propose water cuts that nearly reach the lower limit of 2 million acre feet demanded by federal officials, with nearly all mandatory cuts centered in Arizona, California and Nevada. .

The proposal also calls for the imposition of “voluntary conservation measures” in Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.

Becky Mitchell, director of the Colorado Water Conservation Commission, said the approach “properly distributes the burden across the watershed and protects tribes, water users, and environmental values ​​in the upper watershed.”

The Bureau of Reclamation will release draft proposals for how to operate Glen Canyon and the Hoover Dam in March, and will consider six state letters as part of that plan.

Irrigation equipment regulates pumps that draw Colorado River water from lined canals to irrigate cauliflower fields in Imperial Valley, California, December 5, 2022.

Caitlin Ox | Reuters The state missed the deadline for the water cut deal

Exit mobile version