A public process started Thursday to reshape the way Colorado River water is distributed, with federal officials promising to collect comments about updating and enacting rules in 2027 to continue providing hydropower, drinking water and irrigation to farms, cities and tribes in seven Western U.S. states and Mexico.
The U.S. Interior Department said it will publish in the Federal Register on Friday a call for replacing guidelines that expire in 2026, including pacts enacted in 2007 for states to share cutbacks in water drawn from a river diminished by drought and climate change, as well as operating plans for the key Lake Powell and Lake Mead reservoirs. An agreement between the United States and Mexico on use of Colorado River water also is set to expire at that time.
The department’s U.S. Bureau of Reclamation promised a “robust and transparent public process” beginning with online virtual public meetings July 17, July 18 and July 24. It set an Aug. 15 deadline for receipt of public comments on “specific operational guidelines, strategies and any other issues that should be considered.”