Upper Colorado River Drought Plan Triggered for First Time

Increasingly bleak forecasts for the Colorado River have for the first time put into action elements of the 2019 upper basin drought contingency plan.

The 24-month study released in January by the Bureau of Reclamation, which projects two years of operations at the river’s biggest reservoirs, showed Lake Powell possibly dipping below an elevation of 3,525 feet above sea level in 2022. That elevation was designated as a critical threshold in the agreement to preserve the ability to produce hydropower at Glen Canyon Dam.

As States Gather To Sign Colorado River Drought Plan, Focus Turns To What’s Next

After months of tense, difficult negotiations, a plan to spread the effects of anticipated cutbacks on the drought-stricken Colorado River is nearing completion.  On Monday, representatives of the seven states that rely on the river will gather for a formal signing ceremony at Hoover Dam, the real and symbolic center of the Lower Basin Drought Contingency Plan. The plan is a blueprint for shortage sharing built around water levels in Lake Mead, the giant reservoir on the Arizona-Nevada border that has sunk to near-record low levels after two decades of drought.

With Drought Plan In Place, Colorado River Stakeholders Face Even Tougher Talks Ahead On The River’s Future

Even as stakeholders in the Colorado River Basin celebrate the recent completion of an unprecedented drought plan intended to stave off a crashing Lake Mead, there is little time to rest. An even larger hurdle lies ahead as they prepare to hammer out the next set of rules that could vastly reshape the river’s future. Set to expire in 2026, the current guidelines for water deliveries and shortage sharing, launched in 2007 amid a multiyear drought, were designed to prevent disputes that could provoke conflict.

NEPA Looms Over Drought Plan Enthusiasm

Colorado River states cheered this month when President Trump signed swiftly passed legislation ratifying a drought plan for the waterway. But they could be in for a legal fight. Some lawyers say the Drought Contingency Plan, or DCP, may be built on shaky legal ground and could be vulnerable to litigation — depending on how the Bureau of Reclamation implements it. One California water district has already sued to block it. At issue is whether it complies with the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA. Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman testified before Congress that the DCP is “designed to specifically fit within existing environmental compliance”

Gila River Indian Community Moves Ahead With Colorado River Drought Plan After Clash With Lawmaker

Arizona’s efforts to finish a Colorado River drought plan are moving forward after leaders of the Gila River Indian Community announced that they will proceed with their piece of the deal. The community’s leader, Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis, had threatened to pull out of the agreement if the Legislature didn’t drop a bill that he said would undermine the community’s water rights under a hard-fought settlement.