7 states and federal government lack direction on cutbacks from the #ColoradoRiver — National Public Radio #COriver #aridification

Lake Granby and the Front Range Mountains. The snowpack is Colorado’s largest reservoir and total water can only be estimated. Photo credit: The Water Desk

Click the link to read the article on the National Public Radio website (Luke Runyon). Here’s an excerpt:

…a recent deadline for a plan to conserve an unprecedented amount of water came and went without many specifics from either the states or the federal government on how to achieve the cutbacks…With the deadline now passed, and lingering uncertainty about where those cutbacks will come, some of the region’s leaders are calling for the federal government to take charge. Even though the federal government has yet to deliver on its threat to intervene, it could still happen, [Andy] Mueller said. The call for cuts was clear and came with specifics – 2 to 4 million acre-feet in cuts across the watershed. But the threat of what happens if the states can’t get there remains unclear.

“If you don’t know what that threat is, it’s really hard to be motivated to take action,” Mueller said.

Aversion to federal intervention runs deep along the Colorado River. Some state leaders say the federal government should simply run the dams, and not wade into policy-making. Others doubt the forcefulness of federal authorities to mandate cutbacks, most of which are entirely untested. As the river’s scarcity crisis has deepened in recent years, others in the basin are beginning to crave federal leadership.

“There was a deadline that came. It passed. Nothing happened,” said John Entsminger, general manager of the Southern Nevada Water Authority, which serves the Las Vegas metro area. “I think it would be much more effective if the federal government actually, in writing, articulates a plan.”

When it became clear the states were not going to reach an agreement ahead of the deadline, he pleaded with federal officials to take the reins and make hard decisions about where some of the cuts need to come from. This tension between the states and the federal government only works as a motivator when state leaders believe a federal crackdown might really happen, he said.

“The states have never accomplished anything meaningful without a credible federal threat,” Entsminger said.

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