Colorado River drought plan. Arizona must pass it today

Glen Canyon Dam. Arizona
Glen Canyon Dam. Arizona.

The Arizona legislature must pass the Colorado River drought plan. Water from the Colorado River is crucial for seven states. Apportioning the water is governed by what is called “The Law of the River.” The river is severely overused. This region-wide drought plan is necessary because it determines what will happen if shortages occur. All the other states have passed it.

However, Arizona has been arguing among themselves, mainly between (in my opinion) cranky-ass Pinal County ranchers vs. Native Americans living on tribal land over who gets how much water. The deadline is tonight. If Arizona doesn’t sign on to the deal, then the feds will impose mandatory cuts. No one wants that to happen, not even the cranky-ass ranchers. So, hello Arizona, pass the damn bill today. This isn’t just about you. It involves much of the West and California too.

John Fleck, a well-known blogger on water and public policy and Director of the University of New Mexico Water Resources Program, has a new book coming this year about how water issues need to be solved using science and facts, not political posturing, fantasizing, and argle-bargle.

The University of Arizona Press will publish “Science Be Dammed: How Ignoring Inconvenient Science Drained the Colorado River”, by Eric and myself, this fall. We’ll tell you the story of LaRue and others who followed in his wake, and the important ways in which the use and misuse of science is now embedded in the problems of 21st century Colorado River governance as we try to untangle the knots left by the river’s overallocation.

Back to Arizona. Legislators today have until midnight to pass the Colorado River drought plan bill that should have been dealt with months ago.

Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman gave Arizona and other states until midnight Thursday to act or she said she would step in and decide what cuts would be necessary to prevent reservoir levels from falling even further.

State lawmakers don’t want that because it could negate months of delicate negotiations between cities, tribes, farmers and elected officials who crafted the deal.

“This program is essential,” Otondo said, noting that not passing a plan would jeopardize the state’s water future. “Arizona is the junior state. The importance of putting a (drought) plan in place … is irrefutable. We need to.”