Three western states reach agreement on water conservation

California, Arizona, and Nevada reached an agreement on how each state will handle the impact of water shortages from the Colorado River. The accord encourages water conservation and the management of two reservoirs, Lake Mead and Lake Powell, whose water levels have fallen to half-empty since 1999.

12/11/2007


California, Arizona, and Nevada reached an agreement on how each state will handle the impact of water shortages from the Colorado River. The accord encourages water conservation and the management of two reservoirs, Lake Mead and Lake Powell, whose water levels have fallen to half-empty since 1999. The agreement was necessary because of the record eight-year drought, harmful climate changes, and a new scientific analysis suggesting these areas in the future could be drier than originally planned.


After more than two years of negotiation, the agreement establishes criteria for the Interior Dept. to declare a shortage on the river. A shortage will occur when the system is unable to produce the 7.5 million acre-feet of water that the three downriver states need. The Bureau of Reclamation, the department that manages the river systems, predicts a 5% chance of such a shortage happening by 2010.

The pact includes a bundle of agreements with the states, which includes an addendum for the Las Vegas area that gets 90% of its water from the Colorado River. The addendum will call for water managers in the Las Vegas area to receive a greater share of Lake Mead water in exchange for financing a reservoir in California, which will capture large amounts of river water destined for Mexico.

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