The Latest: Western states urged to plan for water shortage
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — The Latest on a drought contingency plan for the Colorado River (all times local):
Arizona water officials have outlined an ambitious plan to stave off shortages of Colorado River water or at least lessen the impact.
They’re hopeful the state’s water users can reach agreement by the end of the year on what’s known as the drought contingency plan.
Arizona loses some Colorado River water when Lake Mead on the state’s border with Nevada falls below 1,075 feet. And it’s close.
A drought contingency plan among the river’s lower basin states would help lessen the burden and spread the cuts more widely at different lake levels.
The Central Arizona Project and the Arizona Department of Water Resources are forming a committee to work out the details.
They briefed others on the plan Thursday in Tempe.
Federal officials are painting a dire picture of the Colorado River water supply and urging Western states to better plan for it and quickly.
The river serves 40 million people and farmland in seven states.
The upper and lower basins have been working on drought contingency plans that would lessen the sting of a shrinking water source.
U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman wants those plans done by the end of the year.
She warned that if Arizona doesn’t sign on, she’ll face immense pressure to reduce deliveries to the state. She also predicted litigation.
The agency says it would rather the states negotiate solutions.
Her comments came Thursday during a briefing in Tempe hosted by Arizona water officials.
Arizona is renewing a focus on a drought contingency plan for the shrinking supply of Colorado River water.
The federal government has been prodding Arizona and six other Western states that rely on the river to wrap up plans by the end of the year.
In the river’s lower basin, the amount of water allocated to Arizona, Nevada and California depends on Lake Mead. Shortages would be triggered if the man-made reservoir on the Arizona-Nevada border dips to 1,075 feet (328 meters) above sea level.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation puts that possibility at more than 50 percent in 2020.
Arizona would take the biggest hit.
Arizona water managers are meeting Thursday to talk about drought plans. Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman is the keynote speaker.