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States reach deal to protect Colorado River

The three Colorado River lower basin states, California, Arizona, and Nevada, have reached a landmark deal on water cuts to conserve water from the river amid continuing drought concerns.

The U.S. Department of the Interior made the announcement in a press release today.

The Colorado River system provides water to more than 40 million people in the west. The Lower Basin Plan proposes to voluntarily conserve 3 million-acre-feet of Colorado River water through 2026, with at least 1.5 million acre-feet of that total being conserved by the end of calendar year 2024. For its part, California alone would agree to 1.6 million acre-feet of conservation over the next four years. 

The water conservation will be compensated through roughly $1 billion in funding from the Inflation Reduction Act.

The Imperial Irrigation District manages a significant allocation of Colorado River water for agricultural use, therefore, any cuts would likely impact farmers in the eastern part of the Coachella Valley, along with tribes and cities across California, Arizona, and Nevada.

Congressman Raul Ruiz issued a statement in response to the proposed deal:

“The Colorado River drought mitigation plan agreement submitted for review is a critical development in our efforts to mitigate the drought. It is clear that California’s 25th Congressional District plays an important role in producing our nation’s produce, and our desert environment makes water a vital public health issue for our residents. Any reduction in water to our area has a disproportionate, negative impact on our residents and environment due to the Salton Sea’s receding shoreline and our residents’ reliance on agriculture for their livelihoods. Additionally, California and the agencies within the district hold some of the most senior water rights. I will be laser-focused on making sure our region gets our fair share of resources, and that the wellbeing of my constituents is front and center.” 

Congressman Raul Ruiz, M.D. (CA-25)

IID issued a press release following the announcement by the Biden Administration:

"For its part, IID continues to anticipate increasing its temporary, voluntary, and compensated conservation volumes by 250,000 acre-feet per year for the Lower Basin proposal, contingent upon development of a federal funding agreement through Reclamation’s Lower Colorado River Basin System Conservation and Efficiency Program. This conservation proposal was facilitated by the recent $250 million federal Salton Sea funding commitment from Reclamation using funding from the Inflation Reduction Act."

Imperial Irrigation District

The plan must be finalized after a federal environmental review.

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Jennifer Franco

Jennifer Franco is the weekend anchor/weekday reporter for KESQ News Channel 3


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