September 13, 2022
Increasing drought in the American West has forced states to try and work together to collectively conserve the dwindling source water that remains. But recent comments from one state legislator to another indicate that cooperation could be hard to forge.
“Rep. Greg Standon (D-Ariz.) called plans by California officials to use more than the state’s full allocation of water from Lake Mead in 2022 ‘reckless and unacceptable’ in a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom (D),” The Hill reported. “Stanton expressed concerns that California is ‘failing to do its part’ relative to other states in the Colorado River Basin.”
As neighbors in a region that is nearly completely plagued by drought, California and Arizona have been urged by federal regulators to come to an agreement on reducing reliance on the Colorado River. In the meantime, the Bureau of Reclamation has instituted mandatory cuts on Arizona and Nevada’s consumption.
Stanton cited the fact that California increased its use of Colorado River water by 41% this April compared to last, as well as the fact that it plans to use its entire 2022 allocation, while Arizona is reducing its consumption.
“Data from the [Bureau of Reclamation] back up Stanton’s numbers,” according to 12 News. “Data also show that California is projected to use 103% of its total river water allocation this year, compared to Arizona’s 75% water usage and Nevada’s 82% usage.”
But conflict over the Colorado River — which is used by New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming, and parts of Mexico in addition to Arizona, California, and Nevada — is likely just beginning. Allocation of its source water is based on a century-old agreement and resolution will likely take unprecedented collaboration or strict federal intervention.
“Saving the Colorado River system requires such significant water reductions that the cuts necessary cannot possibly be borne by one or two states alone — it will take a shared sacrifice among us all,” Stanton wrote in his letter, per The Hill. “It’s time for all states, including California, to do their part.”
To read more about how states are grappling with ongoing drought, visit Water Online’s Water Scarcity Solutions Center.