Western States Declare Drought Plans Done

Mar 20, 2019

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.

Colorado River
Credit U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

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.