Colorado River Basin states reach deal to protect the river system

Governors of Arizona, California, and Nevada announce plan to conserve 3 million acre-feet over the next 3 years to protect the Colorado River system.

Photo by U.S. Geological Survey on Flickr / CC PDM 1.0

The Department of the Interior (DOI) announced that the representatives from the seven Colorado River Basin states have agreed to the submission of a Lower Basin, consensus-based system conservation proposal.

According to a statement by the DOI, the “consensus-based proposal – agreed upon by the three Lower Basin states” — Arizona, California, and Nevada — “commits to measures to conserve at least 3 million-acre-feet (maf) of system water through the end of 2026, when the current operating guidelines are set to expire.”

“Under this consensus proposal, the remaining system conservation needed for sustainable operation will be achieved through voluntary, uncompensated reductions by the Lower Basin states.”

“There are 40 million people, seven states, and 30 Tribal Nations who rely on the Colorado River Basin for basic services such as drinking water and electricity,” said Secretary Deb Haaland. “Today’s announcement is a testament to the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to working with states, Tribes, and communities throughout the West to find consensus solutions in the face of climate change and sustained drought.”

“The Lower Basin Plan is the product of months of tireless work by our water managers to develop an agreement that stabilizes the Colorado River system through 2026,” said Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs. “Thanks to the partnership of our fellow Basin States and historic investments in drought funding, we now have a path forward to build our reservoirs back up in the near-term. From here, our work must continue to take action and address the long-term issues of climate change and overallocation to ensure we have a sustainable Colorado River for all who rely upon it.”