States Deadline Missed for Water Cuts

Six of Seven States Agree

California Proposes Separate Plan

Six states that rely on water from the Colorado River have agreed on a model to dramatically cut water use in the basin, just before a January 31 deadline imposed by the Bureau of Reclamation, which operates the Glen Canyon and Hoover Dams that separate the upper and lower Colorado basin.  California, the largest user of Colorado River water, is the lone holdout, and the state has released its own plan.

Because the seven states failed once again to reach a joint agreement at a time when both Lake Powell and Lake Mead are at critically low levels, the federal government is expected to impose new allocations on the states in late summer.  Litigation will almost certainly follow.

On January 30, a press release from the Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR) notes that six states (Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming) “have together proposed to the Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) a Consensus-Based Modeling Alternative that could provide a framework in which to negotiate long-term solutions.”

The proposed framework proposes immediate cuts of about 2 million acre-feet (a-f) of water usage by the lower basin states of Arizona, California, and Nevada.  The total US allocation of the lower basin states is 7.5 million acre-feet, with California receiving 4.4 M (57% of the total), Arizona 2.8 M (37%) and Nevada 0.3M (4%).  In this framework, California’s cuts would be greater than 1 M a-f.  However, California offers to cut only 0.4 M a-f.

The basis for California’s position is the “law of the river”, which grants California senior rights relative to Arizona as part of the legislation that authorized the Central Arizona Project (CAP) in 1968.  Of the remaining six Colorado basin states, none actively support the California interpretation of this provision.

This is obviously of great importance to Carefree residents since the majority of Carefree’s water originates in the CAP.  We will update our reporting to reflect further developments.

Carefree Unity 2/3/23

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