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Maura Bennett Colorado River Water Plan
by Maura Bennett, click here for bio

Program: Colorado Ag Today
Date: March 22, 2019

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Seven Western states that rely on the Colorado River for water have reached a consensus on a landmark plan to voluntarily reduce water usage. The Associated Press reported the new strategy is part of an effort to safeguard the river, which serves 40 million people and irrigates 7,812 square miles of farmland, in an era of worsening drought and climate change.

The drought contingency plan is “meant to avoid a crisis on the river,” according to U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman.

That crisis was exactly what Brad Udall, a senior scientist at Colorado State University and an expert on water supplies in the West warned a congressional panel about last month

He said the drought contingency plan only buys more time to implement more permanent solutions and leaves difficult decisions for that next plan.

This plan needs to be a climate change plan for the basin. The planning process should be open and inclusive. It should solved the overuse problem in the lower basis and should prepare for extended low flows. It should also revisit the longstanding assumptions about how the river is being managed including the upper basin so called delivery obligation who bears the burden of solving the lower basin’s overuse and how the reservoirs are operated.

The agreement says that, states, municipal water managers, farmers, and industries will work collectively to keep the river’s major reservoirs at sustainable levels.

Udall suggested the Federal government has a major role to play in lowering the burden on agriculture.

He says negotiations on the permanent water plan should begin next year.

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