By Elizabeth Whitman | Phoenix New Times
First, the good news: The negotiators of Arizona’s Drought Contingency Plan have crafted the most detailed, concrete proposal to date laying out how Arizona will deal with expected cutbacks to its supply of Colorado River.
“We’re closer than we’ve ever been, and I think we’re in closure range,” said Ted Cooke, co-chair of the steering committee of the Drought Contingency Plan and general manager of the Central Arizona Project, after a three-and-a-half-hour meeting Tuesday.
Now, the bad: The partial shutdown of the federal government is squeezing these negotiators. A January 31 deadline set by the government approaches inexorably. Meanwhile, a last-minute push on Tuesday by homebuilders to receive more water in the plan threatens the precarious balance of the existing proposal.
“Right now, not having [our legal counsel] at work is very difficult, for us. It’s hard to move forward,” Leslie Meyers, Phoenix area manager for the Bureau of Reclamation, told reporters on Tuesday. “It’s hard to get some of the agreements done.”