Annual Colorado Water Congress Summer Conference wraps up — Ark Valley Voice

Sunset on the Colorado River at Silt September 2022. Photo credit: Allen Best/Big Pivots

Click the link to read the article on the Ark Valley Voice website (Jan Wondra). Here’s an excerpt:

At the conference, [U.S. Senator] Bennet addressed his priorities for the return of Congress after the August break. At the top of the agenda will be writing the 2023 Farm Bill; which is normally approved and funded for a five-year period of time. This is expected to include protecting the $20 billion for agricultural conservation in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and $10 billion for forestry in the IRA and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law…Both [U.S. Senator] Hickenlooper and Bennet have advanced the role that must be played by the 30 tribes of the Colorado River Basin; recommending a permanent seat at the table on water renegotiations. The tribes did get attention from the infrastructure bill with about $5 billion set aside for their projects, said Bennet. But in Colorado River Basin negotiations, they have had no voice…

How much money? Bennet has estimated about $4 billion from the inflation bill for permanent and long-term reductions in the lower basin states, as well as $8 billion from the infrastructure legislation. The next step is to try to forge a consensus among the seven basin states of the Colorado River about how to reapportion the water, that the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation can ratify. That could be easier said than done, given the friction between the Upper Basin states and the Lower Basin states. The Biden Administration has directed the Bureau of Reclamation to get the seven states to agree on a plan to handle the water crisis on the Colorado River. It’s not that they don’t agree on the science and the diminished flow of the Colorado. Regardless of being red or blue states they do — they are just not yet at the point of agreeing on what to do about it…

By the end of 2023, the Bureau is expected to have some rulemaking in place that will cobble the agreement among the states to the year 2026. But that is the limit of the extension because the current operating guidelines for the Colorado River expire then and there is no choice: they have got to be renegotiated.

Bennet is on record saying, “I do not want the Bureau telling the American West what this will look like.”

Native America in the Colorado River Basin. Credit: USBR

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