Four states come together to save the Colorado River.
The Colorado River is in danger to run out of water. The landmark river is now under a conservation program implemented by four states. Municipal water providers in Arizona, California, Nevada and Colorado, and the Bureau of Reclamation are implementing a landmark Colorado River System Conservation program.
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For more than a decade, a severe drought unprecedented in the last 100 years has hit the Colorado River, reducing water levels in storage reservoirs throughout the Basin and increasing the risk of falling to critically low water levels. In July, reservoir levels in Lake Mead dipped to the lowest level since Hoover Dam was filled in 1937. See the photo below.
Beginning today, Reclamation is soliciting water conservation project proposals from Colorado River entitlement holders in Arizona, California, and Nevada. At a later date, water users in the Upper Basin will be invited to participate in this unique agreement.
Central Arizona Project, Denver Water, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, Southern Nevada Water Authority, and Reclamation are providing up to $11 million to fund new Colorado River water conservation projects. The projects are intended to demonstrate the viability of cooperative, voluntary projects to reduce demand for Colorado River water. The program is soliciting project proposals from agriculture, and municipal and industrial Colorado River water entitlement holders.
All water conserved under this program will stay in the river system, helping to boost the declining reservoir levels and protecting the health of the entire river system. The municipal agencies and the federal government agree that collaborative action is needed now to reduce the risk to water supplies, hydropower production, water quality, agricultural output, and recreation and environmental resources across the entire Colorado River basin. The Colorado River and its tributaries provide water to nearly 40 million people for municipal use, and the combined metropolitan areas served by the Colorado River represent the world’s 12th largest economy, generating more than $1.7 trillion in Gross Metropolitan Product per year.
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This first call for proposals is for Lower Basin parties. Upper Basin proposals will be requested in the future.