@CAPArizona and the Upper Colorado River Commission meeting recap #COriver

From The Nevada Indpendent (Daniel Rothberg):

Following a Monday meeting in Salt Lake City, Colorado River water users are pledging to move past two weeks of public fighting between an Arizona agency and four states that divert water from the river. The Arizona utility — the Central Arizona Water Conservation District (CAWCD) — said at the meeting that it regretted having used rhetoric that inflamed tensions…

On Monday, the agency apologized for its rhetoric and said it hoped to begin to repair its frayed relationship with the state agency, an arm of the governor’s office, to work on the drought plan.

“CAWCD regrets that intra-Arizona issues have impacted other parties in the Colorado River basin,” a CAWCD spokesperson wrote in a statement. “Specifically, CAWCD regrets using language and representations that were insensitive to Upper Basin concerns, and resolves to have a more respectful and transparent dialogue in the future. As a result of the meeting, CAWCD has committed to beginning a fresh conversation within Arizona, including with ADWR and other stakeholders, to chart a path forward for an effective Drought Contingency Plan.”

The meeting was less an attempt to resolve the conflict and more a chance to start talks.

“Our objective for this meeting was not to resolve all issues but, rather, to identify a path forward for our talks,” James Eklund, who represents the state of Colorado in the negotiations, said Tuesday in a statement. “Despite these encouraging messages, the jury is still out.”

He said that any progress forward would be in the district’s actions.

It’s unclear how much of an impact the meeting will have in solving the issue that upset the Upper Basin enough to send a rare letter that singled out CAWCD. While CAWCD said it regretted its rhetoric, the agency was quiet about whether it would change its strategy.

From KUNC (Luke Runyon):

The meeting didn’t resolve the issue, says James Eklund, the Colorado representative on the Upper Colorado River Commission, but CAP officials did offer an apology.

“District representatives expressed regret about their use of rhetoric in describing the policy of maximizing reservoir releases solely for the benefit of the [Central Arizona Water Conservancy] District at the expense of the rest of the Colorado River Basin,” Eklund said in a written statement.

States in the river’s Upper Basin — Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, New Mexico — accused CAP and CAWCD of manipulating how much water the project received to avoid a shortage, while still gaining more water from those states’ biggest reservoir, Lake Powell.

In response to a series of public statements and an infographic sent to CAP’s Twitter followers demonstrating this strategy, Upper Basin representatives sent a letter in mid-April saying CAP’s behavior, while within the rules, was a violation of the watershed’s collaborative spirit. The larger basin-wide feud was borne out of a dispute within the state of Arizona over which agencies have final authority to decide how to conserve water…

Meeting attendees did not schedule a follow up meeting to further address the issue, and a meeting between CAWCD and state of Arizona water officials has yet to be scheduled.

The dust up caused at least one city to pull out of a Colorado River conservation program meant to boost reservoir levels. The city of Pueblo, Colorado’s water department cited CAP’s behavior in rescinding its proposal to participate in the System Conservation Pilot Program.

“This river really only works and functions the way we’ve designed it if trust is in abundance and we’re truly viewing the entire basin as connected,” Eklund says. The discussion in Salt Lake City was a starting point, “but the proof of progress will be in [CAP’s] actions.”

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