Click the link to read the article on The Denver Post website (Conrad Swanson). Here’s an excerpt:
Those states, which make up the river’s lower basin, are reportedly close to an agreement that would cut the amount of water they draw from the waterway. They’re racing against the clock to find an agreement before the end of the month or else the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation might make the cuts for them. But their proposed savings – reported Thursday by the Washington Post – amount to half of the minimum amount of water federal officials said the basin must save. And while the Colorado River’s headwaters saw an above-average snowpack this year, that extra water only buys the West a bit more time and the boon isn’t expected to last.
“The river is telling us that we haven’t done enough,” Jennifer Gimbel, a senior water policy scholar at Colorado State University said. “It’s challenging us.”
The proposal, which hasn’t formally been proposed, would mean the Imperial Irrigation District would be conserving nearly a quarter of its water supply, spokesman Robert Schettler said. Already those measures could mean that fewer crops come out of the major farming district in southern California (the largest water user in the most water-consumptive state), lowering national supply and raising prices. Digging deeper would exacerbate those issues, he said.,,Negotiations to meet those federal requirements are fraught, pitting rural communities against urban ones and forcing a type of standoff between Arizona and California, the two largest water users on the river. Upper-basin states of Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming offered a small effort, for their part, but water managers there are reluctant to commit further without more substantial movement from the downstream states…
Currently, the lower-basin states are nearing an agreement to conserve 3 million acre-feet over the next three years, The Washington Post reported. That’s half of Reclamation’s minimum required savings of 2 million acre-feet annually, though. And the states would want to be paid more than $1 billion from the federal government to forego that water, the Post continued, citing state and federal officials familiar with the negotiations. Massive amounts of federal money are available for conservation projects, Gimbel said. Programs are already in place to pay farmers and others to use less water and they’ve seen mixed results. But paying people, businesses and states not to use water isn’t a long-term strategy, Gimbel noted. She praised lower-basin states for coming together but noted that the water saved by the prospective deal wouldn’t be enough.