Hurdles Remain for Colorado River Agreement
June 2, 2023
On May 22, Arizona, Nevada, and California sent a letter to the Commissioner of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) that announced their agreement to conserve an additional 3 million acre-feet of Colorado River water by the end of 2026 (Lower Basin Plan) and requested that Reclamation analyze the agreement under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The Lower Basin Plan represents an important compromise for addressing water shortages in the Lower Colorado River Basin with the promise to alleviate the pressure of long-term shortages of Colorado River water. However, the Plan will undergo an environmental review process that will require Reclamation to grapple with the uncertainties of climate change and engage with tribes both with settled rights and unresolved claims to Colorado River water. Thus, while the Lower Basin Plan purports to enhance the near-term viability of limited Colorado River water supplies, it is not yet clear that it represents the final word about how Reclamation will manage the Colorado River over the next three years.
Reprinted with permission from the Daily Journal. ©2023 Daily Journal Corporation.