Click the link to read the article on the Colorado Public Radio website (Michael Elizabeth Sakas). Here’s an excerpt:
During a U.S. Senate hearing on Western drought [June 14, 2022], the commissioner for the Bureau of Reclamation told the states in the Colorado River Basin that they have 60 days to create an emergency plan to stop using between 2 and 4 million acre-feet of water in the next year or the agency will use its emergency authority to make the cuts itself…Touton said the seven states must “stay at the table until the job is done.”
Commissioner Touton’s directive dropped just a couple of days before the University of Colorado Boulder’s annual Colorado law conference on natural resources, which is focused on the Colorado River.
“That elephant is filling this whole room,” John Fleck, a water policy professor at the University of New Mexico, said at the start of his talk at the conference. Fleck, who has also written multiple books on the Colorado River, watched Touton’s testimony in his Alamosa hotel room en route to the conference…
Fleck said the directive, combined with the “threat” of federal action if the states don’t act, creates an extraordinary challenge for water managers and users in the Colorado River Basin — a group he noted included many of the people at the CU Boulder conference.
To explain the federal agency’s reasoning for calling for such massive cuts, bureau hydrologic engineer James Prairie presented to attendees an updated forecast of expected flows into Lakes Powell and Mead over the next few years. By early 2024, projections show water levels in Lake Powell could drop too low for hydropower turbines to operate and generate electricity.