What does that mean for California? – Daily News

After nearly a year of intense negotiations, California, Nevada and Arizona have reached an agreement. historic agreement Today’s goal is to reduce water use from the temporary withdrawal Colorado River over the next three years.

States have agreed to waive Secure 3 million acre feet of river water by 2026 — approximately 13% of the amount received. In return, farmers and other water users will receive compensation from the federal government.

Since last spring, the Biden administration has been lobbying states to reach an agreement to cut water supplies to the Colorado River. This trilateral agreement is a historic step, but not final. The U.S. Department of the Interior should consider this proposal. And all must be renegotiated by the end of 2026.

In California, the agreement will primarily affect the water supply of Imperial Valley farmers. Plans to reduce water use equitably have created tensions between farms and cities, and between states, particularly California and Arizona.

Here’s what you need to know about the new plan, how it will affect California, and whether it will bring relief to critical water systems in the West.

Why was this agreement necessary?

The Colorado River Basin has been insolvent for decades. its main reservoir, lake mead and lake powellis steadily declining, and 40 million people in the West are at risk of water supplies.

In response, last June, Interior Department officials called on the seven basin states to reduce their water use by two to four million acre-feet annually, or 15% to 30% annually.situation failed to meet deadline make a plan.So the Ministry of the Interior announced its own action plan Last month also included a controversial cut into senior water rights for Imperial Valley farmers.

Unhappy with these federal proposals, California, Arizona, and Nevada stepped up negotiations and tried to come up with alternatives. Today’s agreement by three states to cut their water use by 2026 is seen as a major, albeit temporary, step. At least half of the 3 million acre feet he plans to save by the end of 2024.

The Home Office has now withdrawn plans to allow new state agreements to be added to the package of options under consideration.

Landfill Commissioner Camille Karimrim Touton called the agreement “an important step forward towards our shared goal of building sustainable pathways in the watersheds that millions of people call home.” rice field.

Who in California will this affect? ​​Should we use less water?

The agreement will affect water supplies for approximately 19 million Southern Californians living in six counties that import water from the Metropolitan Water District.

However, the impact will be minimal. The district will sacrifice 130,000 acre-feet per year that it normally receives through transfer agreements from farmers in the Palo Verde Irrigation District of Riverside and Imperial counties. That water will instead be left in Lake Mead, said Bill Hasencamp, the Metropolitan’s Colorado River Resource Manager. The federal government will reimburse producers at a rate of $400 per acre-foot.

Metropolitan will also voluntarily retain 250,000 acre-feet of land on Lake Mead this year. The water will be available in the district in the future.

Hasencamp said those cuts won’t affect Southern California residents this year. This is because the rains have significantly increased the supply from the state water project. State Aqueduct only supplied the Metropolitan with about 100,000 acre-feet last year, but this year he plans to supply 2 million acre-feet. (One acre-foot is equivalent to the annual usage of about three households.)

Still, Hasencamp said saving water should remain a way of life, both in communities and on farms.

“We need to recognize that the western regions are drying up,” he said.

Farmers of the Imperial Valley They are the largest users of the Colorado River’s water. Imperial Irrigation District today announced it will reduce its on-farm usage by about 250,000 acre-feet annually, or about 10% of the average amount.

The borough said it will receive $250 million from the federal government in rewards for producers who cut back. The funds could be used to compensate growers who are letting their crops fallow.

Henry Martinez, general manager of the Imperial Irrigation District, said the agreement “is based on voluntary and achievable conservation volumes that help protect the elevation of critical Colorado River reservoirs, particularly Lake Mead.”

Watered by the Colorado River, Imperial County is the ninth-largest agricultural producer in the state, reporting $2.3 billion in 2021 sales, led by cattle and lettuce.

In terms of area, the Imperial Valley is dominated by alfalfa and other water-intensive crops used for dairy and cattle feed, which occupy more than half of the farmland.We also produce imperial two-thirds of vegetables Consumed during the winter in the United States.

The Department of the Interior said it would use the Control Inflation Act to pay farmers and other users for saving 2.3 million acre-feet of water. The remaining 700,000 acre-feet “will be achieved through voluntary, uncompensated reductions by downstream states.” The interior ministry did not disclose how much money would be spent or who would get the money.

What will the Colorado River need in the long term?

Most of the year, farms, cities, and tribes 13 million acre feet The amount of water in the Colorado River far exceeds the 11 million acre-feet of rain and snow that enter the river system each year. Unless major cuts are made, these sources, most importantly the approximately 50 million acre-feet of combined Mead and Powell rivers, could be virtually depleted within a few years.

The new agreement represents savings of about one million acre-feet per year, but that alone isn’t enough. Experts say we need to save at least twice that amount.

Downstream states use most of the Colorado River’s water, so the onus is on those states, especially California, the largest consumer, to consider water conservation.

A wet winter eased the emergency. But in the drylands of the West, where population growth and worsening drought are drying up water supplies, this relief is probably short-lived.

Sarah PorterThe director of the Kill Water Policy Center at Arizona State University said the proposed plan shows progress, even though more action is needed.

“This is another step towards the long-term downregulation of the amount of water in the Colorado River that we as a region can expect to get out of the system,” she said.

Porter said that because the plan is a voluntary plan, it “will allow us to reach our 2026 target without risking litigation.”

Adel Hagekaril, general manager of the Metropolitan Water District in Southern California, said today’s deal would provide some relief to Mead and Powell, but not a complete solution.

“Once an agreement is in place, we must turn our attention to the much bigger challenge ahead: developing long-term post-2026 solutions to river imbalances,” he said. .

Alastair Brand wrote this article Karmataz.

https://www.dailynews.com/2023/05/23/colorado-river-deal-what-does-it-mean-for-california/ What does that mean for California? – Daily News

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