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Nevada water officials: Colorado River negotiations have produced “exactly nothing”

Blue water pools behind a white concrete dam, surrounded by bare red rock
U.S. Bureau of Reclamation
Lake Powell sits at 26% full after two decades of drought.

Monday was the deadline for the seven Colorado River Basin states to submit plans to the federal government for reducing their water use by at least 2 million acre-feet, but the water officials in Nevada say no meaningful discussion has taken place. KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny reports.

A letter from the Southern Nevada Water Authority to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation says two months of negotiations have produced “exactly nothing.” The letter blames the “unreasonable expectations” of water users and referred to some proposals as “drought profiteering.”

Nevada receives only a small fraction of Colorado River water. It’s expected the brunt of the cuts will be borne by farmers in Arizona and California, who have asked to be paid to leave fields unplanted.

The Upper Basin States—Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming—have declined to commit to any specific water cuts.

The Nevada letter says that the states will “wallow” without aggressive federal action, and advocates for investments in water recycling, conversions to drought tolerant crops, and bans on decorative grass.

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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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