The Colorado River supplies crucial water to seven states. It has been in serious drought for nineteen years. On Monday, the Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan cleared Congress. It took two years of negotiations between cities, states, water boards, farmers and ranchers, and Native American tribes to get the bill to Congress, where it passed in just six days.
The plan agrees that all the stakeholders will share the pain. This is a good outcome indeed.
AZ Senator Sinema said:
“The legislation, S. 1057, establishes voluntary water conservation measures that will help manage prolonged drought conditions and regional climate change impacts throughout the Southwest. It also places an emphasis on maintaining water levels in Lake Mead and Lake Powell, the river’s two largest reservoirs, so that no one stakeholder group runs completely dry and water driven turbines at both sites continue to generate reliable power.”
“Severe droughts will become more frequent in the West as our climate continues to change, so we have to be prepared by saving more water from the wet years for the dry ones,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. said
Sure, there are problems, especially in Arizona. However the plan also shows that bipartisan agreement can happen on important issues that affect all of us.
Under the plan, Arizona’s total use of the river would drop by about 18 percent, or more than 500,000 acre feet during the first year of a declared shortage, which could happen as soon as next year. Those shortages would primarily affect Pinal County farmers who will have to rely more on groundwater, which some critics say is not a sustainable solution and doesn’t address the underlying issues.