Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, and Wyoming, seven states that depend on the drought-stricken Colorado River for water, did not fulfill a deadline of January 31 set by the federal government to develop a strategy to cut their water consumption.
According to officials, California, which receives the most water from the river, declined to join a proposal made by the other six states and would instead publish its own water use plan.
According to Sarah Porter, director of the Kyl Center for Water Policy at Arizona State University, “it’s easy to underestimate how difficult and intricate this is for every single state.” These are the most difficult conversations to conduct since we need to remove less water from the system.
Due to a two-decade drought and climate change, the Colorado River has reached unprecedented lows. Government-mandated cuts may result if all seven states are unable to come to an agreement.
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After the talks came to a standstill, the six states—aside from California—sent a proposal to the Bureau of Reclamation proposing strategies to reduce water use while accounting for leaks and evaporation. This proposal was titled Consensus-Based Modeling Alternative.
We understand that over the past two decades, significantly less water has entered the Colorado River system that has left it and that as a result, we have basically run out of storage to deplete. As a result, the proposal states, we will keep cooperating with the federal government, water users, Basin Tribes, non-governmental organizations, and other Colorado River stakeholders to come to an agreement on how to most fairly divide the responsibility for maintaining the system from which we all derive so many benefits.
According to BBC News, the plan calls for reductions in water consumption from the Lake Mead and Lake Powell reservoirs to prevent them from dropping to a point where there is no longer any downstream flow, or “dead pool.”
The 1,450-mile Colorado River and its tributaries travel through seven states in the United States, two states in Mexico, and several of the nation’s largest cities, including Los Angeles, Denver, Phoenix, and Las Vegas. The river is essential to the livelihood of forty million people, including Native American tribes, as well as a $5 billion agriculture sector annually.
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According to The Guardian, the model put up by the six states would result in decreases of around two million acre-feet in the river’s Lower Basin and lower reductions in the Upper Basin. Two to three American households may live off of an acre-foot of water for a year.
According to The Guardian, Southern Nevada Water Authority General Manager John Entsminger did not consider the lack of agreement at one point in the process to be a failure. I believe that all seven states are still committed to cooperating.