Wednesday, February 8, 2023 10:52 am

Arizona has taken the heaviest Colorado River water cuts. Other basin states must step up

Lake Mead after 18-year drought || Photo by Alexis Kuhbander / Cronkite News

Opinion: We expected Arizona to absorb even deeper water cuts in 2023. But we can’t conserve enough by ourselves to stabilize the Colorado River.

By Terry Goddard and Lisa Atkins opinion contributors || The Arizona Republic

There was a lot of Colorado River news last week. But what really happened?

Not nearly enough.

The U.S. Department of the Interior announced that the Colorado River will be in a Tier 2a Colorado River shortage in 2023 under the Drought Contingency Plan (DCP) adopted in 2019.

This was expected, and we at the Central Arizona Project are prepared. It means Arizona will be conserving even more water in Lake Mead than we did this year.

But something much bigger was supposed to happen last week – and it didn’t.

They sounded the alarm, then offered no plan

Farmers in the area will lose all Central Arizona Project water in 2023.

Earlier this summer, Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Camille Touton sounded an alarm – an urgent message that Colorado River Basin water users must conserve four times as much water as we are currently forgoing under the DCP to keep our reservoirs from declining to dangerously low levels.

She challenged the Colorado River basin states to come up with a plan to reach that goal by mid-August.

How it’s playing out:What Colorado River cuts mean for parts of California

We expected that plan and the shortage declaration to be announced together. However, the seven states did not come together, despite Arizona’s best efforts.


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