Anne Castle praises recent efforts to solve the supply problem in the Colorado River Basin in this guest column running in the Arizona Central. Here’s an excerpt:
We recently announced the “Next Steps” in the Colorado River Basin Study process — the steps that bridge the gap from identifying the problem to concrete, constructive solutions. Working in close partnership with the seven states that share the Colorado River, the U.S. Department of the Interior is convening the best experts in the water management business to assess options and strategies to ensure that the Colorado River is managed wisely so that it can meet the current and future needs in the basin. Farmers, cities, tribes, businesses, states, recreationalists and environmentalists will all be working together to better understand the Colorado’s limits and what can be done to conserve, stretch and manage its supplies.
We are also initiating a partnership with Native American tribes to undertake a comprehensive study of tribal water rights to ensure that the needs and capabilities of tribal nations can be fully factored into future strategies on the Colorado River. This effort supports the Obama administration’s commitment to building a better future for Indian country.
I am optimistic about this collaborative effort because its foundation is a multistate partnership that is unique in the United States. Over the past two decades, the seven Colorado River Basin states have formed a network of innovative problem solvers who have adopted proactive solutions that recognize their interdependence on the Colorado.
The Interior Department will also contribute to practical solutions on the Colorado River through its WaterSMART Program. With more than $200 million in federal investments since 2010, WaterSMART creates incentives and encourages innovative water conservation projects and has achieved real water savings benefiting millions of people.
The thread of the Colorado River is both fragile and resilient. Building upon recent successful efforts to improve water management in the basin, the Next Steps process will focus on enhancing the resiliency and sustainability of the resource we’ve been blessed with. After all, we’re all in this together.