Biden-Harris Administration Announces Nearly $64 Million for New Water #Conservation Agreements to Protect the #ColoradoRiver System #COriver #aridification

Graphic by Chas Chamberlin, Source: Western Resource Advocates

Click the link to read the release on the Department of Interior website:

PHOENIX, Ariz. — The Biden-Harris administration today announced $63.4 million in new investments as part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda for water conservation, water efficiency, and protection of critical environmental resources in the Colorado River System. The investments, which will improve and protect the stability and sustainability of the Colorado River System now and into the future, are administered through the Lower Colorado River Basin System Conservation and Efficiency Program and funded by the Inflation Reduction Act, the largest climate investment in history.

Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Camille Calimlim Touton joined federal, Tribal and state leaders in Phoenix today to announce the execution of seven new system conservation agreements in Arizona, which will conserve up to 162,710-acre feet of water in Lake Mead through 2026. The conservation agreements will help finance voluntary system conservation to protect Colorado River reservoir storage volumes amid persistent drought conditions driven by climate change.

The new conservation agreements build on the Biden-Harris Administration’s announcement of a historic consensus-based proposal to conserve at least 3 million-acre feet of Colorado River System water through the end of 2026, when the current operating guidelines are set to expire.

“Thanks to President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, the Lower Colorado River Basin System Conservation and Efficiency Program is helping address, improve and protect the long-term stability of the Colorado River System,” said Secretary Deb Haaland. “The Biden-Harris administration is using every tool and resource at our disposal to continue our sustained, collaborative progress in increasing water conservation across the West.”

“Addressing the drought crisis requires an all-hands-on-deck moment, and close collaboration among federal, state, Tribal and local communities. We are excited to see so many Arizona entities committing to system conservation and partnership,” said Commissioner Touton. “Together, we can come together to find solutions to meet the challenges of these unprecedented drought conditions.”

New Conservation Agreements

The System Conservation Implementation Agreements announced today will commit water entities in Arizona to conserving water in the Colorado River System. Water entities entering into these agreements include:

Historic Funding from Investing in America Agenda

President Biden’s Investing in America agenda is integral to these efforts to increase near-term water conservation, build long term system efficiency, and prevent the Colorado River System’s reservoirs from falling to critically low elevations that would threaten water deliveries and power production. Because of this funding, conservation efforts have already benefited the system this year. 

The seven new agreements announced today join eleven previously announced contracts in Arizona. In total, the 18 agreements executed in Arizona will commit water entities across the state to conserve up to 348,680-acre feet of water in Lake Mead in 2023, and up to 984,429-acre feet through 2026. Reclamation is working with its partners to finalize additional agreements. These agreements are part of the 3 million acre-feet of system conservation commitments made by the Lower Basin states, 2.3 million acre-feet of which will be compensated through funding from the Inflation Reduction Act, which invests a total of $4.6 billion to address the historic drought across the West. 

Through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, Reclamation is also investing another $8.3 billion over five years for water infrastructure projects, including water purification and reuse, water storage and conveyance, desalination and dam safety. 

To date, the Interior Department has announced the following investments for Colorado River Basin states, which will yield hundreds of thousands of acre-feet of water savings each year once funded projects are complete: 

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