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Arizona tribes respond to struggling Colorado River negotiations

CBS Las Vegas via Creative Commons

The Gila River Indian Community in central Arizona has withdrawn from an agreement that keeps more water in Lake Mead. KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny reports, the Community cites the “complete lack of progress” among the states trying to negotiate water cuts to deal with the drought.

The Gila River Indian Community has rights to nearly a fourth of the Colorado River water delivered via the Central Arizona Project.

In 2016 the state of Arizona agreed to pay the Community to leave some of that water in Lake Mead.

But the community’s governor, Stephen Roe Lewis, issued a statement saying they will no longer participate in that agreement. He says negotiations are in, quote, “a state of disarray” and condemns what he calls “self-interested profiteering proposals.”

The Community will store its excess Colorado River water underground instead.

Meanwhile the Colorado River Indian Tribes in Western Arizona—which includes Mohave, Chemehuevi, Hopi, and Navajo—wrote in a statement they will remain in negotiations. The Tribes have buffered Lake Mead’s levels for the past six years by fallowing farm fields.

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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