House Approves Colorado River Drought Plan

The U.S. House has passed a drought contingency plan for the Colorado River aimed at improving water conservation. Led by Representative Raúl M. Grijalva a Democrat from Arizona, the Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan Authorization Act implements the Drought Contingency Plan. The plan is a water-sharing agreement between Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, California, New Mexico and Nevada that accounts for ongoing water shortages and regional climate change throughout the Southwest. The House passed the bill on a voice vote, and once transmitted to the Senate, “it will be considered approved and will be sent directly to the White House.” The agreement establishes new water conservation measures to protect reservoir levels at Lake Mead and Lake Powell, using voluntary water reductions and management strategies to avoid historic lows in Colorado River reservoirs, which would trigger dramatic water delivery cuts to the seven states. Utah Democratic Representative Ben McAdams called the Colorado River the “lifeblood for farmers and ranchers in Eastern Utah,” adding Lake Powell and Lake Mead are operating as designed, but both “at uncomfortably low levels.” McAdams says Congress needed to act quickly so “the new agreement can be implemented, and water conservation efforts can begin.”