Reclamation welcomes public input on development of future #ColoradoRiver operations during historic #drought #COriver #aridification

Photo shows the Colorado River flanked by fall colors east of Glenwood Springs, Colorado. Photo credit: USBR

Click the link to read the release on the Reclamation website (Peter Soeth):

The Bureau of Reclamation today published a Federal Register notice to assist in its efforts to develop future Colorado River operating provisions. Several decisional documents and agreements that govern the operation of crucial Colorado River facilities, Lake Powell and Lake Mead, and the management of Colorado River water will expire at the end of 2026. The notice seeks specific input on how to foster meaningful participation by all stakeholders in preparation for beginning the National Environmental Policy Act process to develop post-2026 operating approaches for the Colorado River, and operating strategies to address post-2026.

“In my testimony last week, I stressed the need for a quick response and action from across the basin to reduce water use and protect the sustainability of the Colorado River system,” said Commissioner Camille Calimlim Touton. “As we focus on these short-term response actions, we also clearly recognize the importance of simultaneously planning for the longer-term to stabilize our reservoirs before we face an even larger crisis.”

The publication of this notice is not the start of the NEPA process but is a tool to seek input and encourage brainstorming and input before the formal initiation of the NEPA process.Reclamation is targeting an early 2023 start for the NEPA process to develop post-2026 operating guidelines.

“We want to hear from everyone who has a stake in this basin. We intend to develop our next operating rules in an inclusive, transparent manner, relying on the best available science,” said Senior Water Resources Program Manager Carly Jerla. “We’re seeking input to foster a meaningful participation of Colorado River partners and stakeholders and to gather ideas and strategies for the post-2026 operations that should also be considered in the NEPA process.”

The notice asks for specific suggestions on the process and the substance of how best to analyze future operations and what those operations should include. It also highlights the changing circumstances in the Colorado River Basin since 2007, including declining hydrology, drought and low-runoff conditions impacted by a warmer, changing climate, inclusivity in Colorado River decision-making and the need for continued operational alignment and partnership with the Republic of Mexico.

Specific documents and agreements that expire at the end of 2026 include the December 2007 Colorado River Interim Guidelines for Lower Basin Shortages and Coordinated Operations for Lake Powell and Lake Mead, among other essential management documents, both within the United States as well as international agreements between the United States and Mexico under the 1944 Water Treaty.

The Colorado River Basin is experiencing a 22-year drought and low runoff conditions, and reservoirs within the basin are at historic low levels. There are extensive impacts throughout the Colorado River Basin, including water for homes and crops to the generation of electricity that supports everything we do.

While continuing to work with its partners to mitigate the impacts of this 22-year drought, Reclamation is focused on the next phase of Colorado River operational decision-making.

To help explain the process and answer questions, Reclamation is hosting two webinars:

July 12 at 10 a.m. MDT
Click here to join the meeting
Or call in (audio only)
+1 719-733-3211,,100899510#
Phone Conference ID: 100 899 510#

July 14 at 10 a.m. MDT
Join on your computer or mobile app
Click here to join the meeting
Or call in (audio only)
+1 202-640-1187,,795497392#
Phone Conference ID: 795 497 392#

The public input period ends September 1, 2022.

To learn more about the operations on the Colorado River, please visit https://www.usbr.gov/ColoradoRiverBasin/.

Leave a Reply