Before Western States Suck the #ColoradoRiver Dry, We Have One Last Chance to Act — Bruce Babbit in The New York Times #COriver #aridification

Lake Mead, December 2022. It’s not about the bike. Photo credit: John Fleck/Inkstain

Click the link to read the article on The New York Times website (Bruce Babbit). Here’s an excerpt:

Instead of taking the lead, [the Interior Deparment] urged the seven states — Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming — to figure out how to make the cuts themselves. Since then the states have engaged in futile discussions about how much water each must forgo. Tensions have been most acute among Arizona, California and Nevada, the three states that get their water primarily from large reservoirs instead of stream flow and therefore are the only ones who can be ordered to make reductions. Arizona and California, whose allotments are much larger than Nevada’s, should make the biggest cuts, but they have been sharply divided over how to carry them out.

This week, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland at last entered the negotiations over how the cuts — revised down to two million acre-feet — should be allocated. Her agency released a draft with three options, but it clearly favors one in which the water delivered to Arizona, California and Nevada is reduced by the same percentage for each state…

Coming to agreement will not be easy. To date, California has offered insufficient reductions in its water use, claiming that a federal law enacted more than 50 years ago — before climate change reared its head — places much of the burden of cutting back on Arizona. Arizona has responded that California’s proposal would effectively shut down water deliveries to Phoenix, Tucson and other cities, devastating Arizona’s economy…

Interior has some firepower to pressure the parties toward agreement. All water users, cities and farmers alike, that take water from Lake Mead must have a contract with the department detailing the terms and conditions on which water is delivered from the reservoir. A regulation known as Section 417 empowers the department to periodically review those contracts to assure that water is being delivered and used with maximum efficiency; contracts can be adjusted to reduce water use that is not absolutely necessary.

One thought on “Before Western States Suck the #ColoradoRiver Dry, We Have One Last Chance to Act — Bruce Babbit in The New York Times #COriver #aridification

  1. The 417 process can certainly suggest to a section 5 contractor to conserve, but, thats all when it comes to senor rights holders. There is no broad authority to mandate reduced allocations.

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