On Monday, A historic deal was made between Nevada, Arizona, and California. The deal is in place to cut millions of gallons of the Colorado River water usage over the next four years, half of which would be completed after next year, in an effort to stave off a crisis for the nation’s largest reservoirs.
California, Arizona, and Nevada agree to cut at a bare minimum of 3 million acre-feet of water throughout 2026 and around 10% of the state’s Colorado River allocation. This water would otherwise be used to irrigate farms, generate hydropower, or feed municipal drinking water systems.
The water will be split up among farmers, tribes, and cities that are working with the federal government on short-term payments in exchange for water savings. The cut’s majority will be compensated with at least 1 billion in federal funds from the Inflation Reduction Act. About 1.5 million acre-feet of water are set to be cut by the end of 2024.
The four states that make up the river’s upper basin have said that they support the plan and are going to be reviewing it (Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, and New Mexico).
Interior Sec. Deb Haaland said in a statement that the deal was a “testament” to the Biden administration’s “commitment to working with states, Tribes, and communities throughout the West to find consensus solutions in the face of climate change and sustained drought.”
In a letter to federal officials announcing the plan, the governors of California, Arizona, and Nevada wrote they were “pleased and encouraged by this successful collaboration” among the three states.
California’s lead Colorado River negotiator JB Hamby said:
“California and our partners in Arizona and Nevada have developed a plan to better perform and protect the Colorado River system than either action alternative identified in the current [federal proposal] released last month by Reclamation.”