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Science and Innovations

Western States Declare Drought Plans Done

U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

The seven states in the Colorado River Basin have declared their joint “Drought Contingency Plan” complete. They now await authorizing legislation from Congress. KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny reports.

Cities, farms, and tribal nations negotiated voluntary water cuts to protect Lake Mead and Lake Powell from dropping to critically low levels.

Once approved by Congress, the drought plan will trigger an agreement with Mexico for further conservation. Congressional hearings are scheduled for next week.

Earlier this year the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation threatened to step in and create a federal drought plan for the Colorado River if the states did not finish. That federal process has now been terminated.

Arizona and California were the last states to finalize their plans. Arizona was completing internal negotiations. California’s Imperial Irrigation District wanted federal money to restore the Salton Sea before signing on. But a southern California water agency agreed to shoulder the district’s cuts and it was written out of the agreement.

The drought contingency plan will remain in place until 2026.

Melissa joined KNAU's team in 2015 to report on science, health, and the environment. Her work has appeared nationally on NPR and been featured on Science Friday. She grew up in Tucson, Arizona, where she fell in love with the ecology and geology of the Sonoran desert.
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