Interior Offers Extremes on Colorado River Cuts to Spur Compromise

The Interior Department on Tuesday shared its proposal for expected cuts to Colorado River water allocations but acknowledged that the most extreme options — including a plan that would slash water deliveries to Arizona and Nevada — are unlikely to be included in a final decision this summer.

Instead, agency officials presented their emergency plan — which includes contrasting proposals that would either force California to forfeit a significant portion of its flows or concentrate the pain of cuts on Arizona and Nevada — as a set of “bookends” to motivate state officials to collaborate.

“I would not think about either of these three alternatives as something we’re asking people to choose, but rather, they’re models and alternatives and ways of defining the problem,” said Deputy Interior Secretary Tommy Beaudreau, referring to an update of the 2007 Colorado River Interim Guidelines.