#ColoradoRiver: Developing the accounting is slowing the Lower Basin #Drought Contingency Plan #COriver

A paddle-boarder drifts down the Colorado River [May 2017] near the entrance to Burns Hole. Photo/Allen Best

From The Associated Press via The Hour:

The plan, known as Minute 323 , calls for Mexico to give up claim to some water in exchange for U.S. investment in water improvement projects there. It also calls for an international plan to respond to drought conditions in Lake Mead that would include Mexico in water reductions.

Before that can take effect, however, a drought contingency plan between U.S. states and water users has to be worked out.

At the time of Minute 323’s approval, Sen. Jeff Flake, R- Arizona, called the deal “a major step forward in guaranteeing a reliable long-term water supply by protecting Arizona’s share of the Colorado River” and said the binational deal was “setting the table for the Lower Basin Drought Contingency Plan.”

That drought response plan would call on California, Nevada, Arizona, Mexico and the Bureau of Reclamation to reduce their shares of the Colorado River water in times of drought, according to Sarah Porter, the director of the Kyl Center for Water Policy at Arizona State University.

“What it is really about is creating an accounting system for water forbearance,” Porter said. “The plan creates an incentive for all the lower basin states, and the big water players to keep their water in Lake Mead, ensuring its levels.”

Even though serious negotiations are ongoing, however, the draft plan is far from completion. Disagreements between states, namely Arizona and California over who would take cuts, as well as conflicts within the states have stalled any draft from moving forward.

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