Upper Colorado River States Land $125 Million for Pilot Conservation Program Amid Drought Crisis

Upper Colorado River Basin states have a new $125 million pot to rent and dry agricultural land and keep more water in the drought-plagued waterway, in a major expansion of a previous conservation pilot announced by the Biden administration’s Bureau of Reclamation.


Colorado River States Attempt To Reach Water-Use Plan — Again

The seven states most affected by dwindling Colorado River levels are meeting over the next few days to draft proposals for managing the basin’s water levels, potentially preventing the Interior Department from imposing its own water cuts.

The seven Colorado River Basin states — Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada and California — have been sparring over who receives the biggest reductions in allocations after Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Camille Touton announced a 2019 deal with the states that hinged on them saving 2 million to 4 million acre-feet of water, as much as a third of the river’s flows, or the federal government would intervene.

Lower Basin States Unveil New Water Plan to Bolster Levels in Lake Mead

Lake Mead in southern Nevada saw extremely low levels of water in 2021.

And so the lower basin states of California, Nevada, and Arizona developed a plan to address the diminishing inflow from the Colorado River.

It’s called the “500-plus plan.”

The title refers to the goal of saving 500,000 acre feet of water per year in Lake Mead.

States to Sign Voluntary Cutbacks of Colorado River Water

To help stave off another round of mandatory cutbacks, water leaders for Arizona, Nevada and California are preparing to sign an agreement that would voluntarily reduce Colorado River water to the lower basin states by 500,000 acre-feet — enough to supply about 750,000 households for a year — for both 2022 and 2023.

The agreement, known as the “500+ Plan”, would require millions of dollars from each state over two years — $60 million from Arizona, $20 million from Nevada and $20 million from California with federal matching dollars — to fund payments for water use reduction and efficiency projects that result in supply savings throughout the lower basin.

The signing is expected to take place Wednesday at the Colorado River Water Users Association annual meeting in Las Vegas, amid urgency to negotiate new rules for managing the depleted river beyond 2026 when the 2007 interim guidelines expire.

Colorado River Outlook Darkens Dramatically in New Study

In the gloomiest long-term forecast yet for the drought-stricken Colorado River, a new study warns that lower river basin states including Arizona may have to slash their take from the river up to 40% by the 2050s to keep reservoirs from falling too low. Such a cut would amount to about twice as much as the three Lower Basin states — Arizona, California and Nevada — agreed to absorb under the drought contingency plan they approved in early 2019.