By Daniel Stefanski |
Arizona received some significant news this week when it came to its water future.
On Monday, Democrat Governor Katie Hobbs released a statement in conjunction with California’s and Nevada’s governors, announcing that “the Colorado River Lower Basin States have developed a plan to conserve 3 million acre-feet over the next three years to protect the Colorado River system.”
The three governors also sent a letter to U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, informing her of their support for this plan. The governors’ release revealed that “the Lower Basin Plan has been submitted to the Bureau of Reclamation with all Seven Colorado River Basin States supporting its evaluation as an action alternative within the Near-Term Colorado River Operations Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (Draft SEIS).”
Hobbs issued the following statement to accompany her announcement: “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. 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.” According to the Department of the Interior, “the consensus-based proposal – agreed upon by the three Lower Basin states – 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. Of those system conservation savings, 2.3 maf will be compensated through funding from the historic Inflation Reduction Act, which is supporting efforts to increase near-term water conservation, build long term system efficiency, and prevent the Colorado River System’s reservoirs from falling to critically low elevations that would threaten water deliveries and power production. Under this consensus proposal, the remaining system conservation needed for sustainable operation will be achieved through voluntary, uncompensated reductions by the Lower Basin states.”
Interior Secretary Haaland said, “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. 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,”
Some Democrat legislators reacted positively to the news out of the Governor’s Office. Senator Mitzi Epstein tweeted: “Smart goals are measurable, verifiable, and enforceable. This smart plan will conserve water – via voluntary agreements among Tribes, cities, & agriculture – to reduce the risk to Lakes Mead and Powell thru 2026. Thank you Governor Hobbs!
And Senator Christine Marsh added, “Thank you Governor Hobbs. I’m glad Arizona was able to reach a short-term agreement to address our water shortage.”
Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.