The Colorado River, one of the most important water sources in the United States, has a much more stable water level now that water use has been voluntarily reduced, stabilizing the river basin for the future.
“This is a victory for collaboration as an approach rather than conflict, which is where we started,” says JB Hamby, chairman of the Colorado River Board of California and member of the Imperial Irrigation District, the largest user of the river’s water. “I am looking forward to using that momentum to start to build what the next 20 years look like on the Colorado River.”
The Colorado River serves seven American states, native American tribes, and two Mexican states supports a multibillion-dollar farm industry in the West, and generates hydropower. To prevent the water elevations from getting too low at Lake Powell and Lake Mead, the river’s two key reservoirs, the states of California, Nevada, and Arizona reached a common plan to reduce their water use. They jointly agreed to conserve an additional 1.2-million-hectare feet of water until the end of 2026 in exchange for $1.2 billion in federal money. To achieve those cuts, water efficiency measures have been implemented, and certain crops have been idled for months at a time. Now, the three states can focus on a new long-term agreement to continue to preserve the river beyond 2026.