10-24-23 | News

US Department of Interior Announces Funding to Strengthen Colorado River Sustainability

Efforts Aim to Ensure Long-term Stability and Water Security in the West
by Staff

The Department of Interior is taking steps to develop guidelines ensuring the sustainability of the Colorado River system.

The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) has announced new measures in its mission to safeguard the long-term stability and sustainability of the Colorado River system, enhancing water security in the American West. The Department's Bureau of Reclamation published the Proposed Federal Action and a Scoping Summary Report related to Colorado River Basin operations post-2026. These efforts are separate from ongoing initiatives to protect the Colorado River Basin through the end of 2026.

Lake Powell and Lake Mead have experienced historically low reservoir levels, making the safeguarding of the Colorado River Basin even more urgent. In response, the post-2026 planning process aims to replace the expiring 2007 Colorado River Interim Guidelines for Lower Basin Shortages and the Coordinated Operations for Lake Powell and Lake Mead with new operating guidelines for 2027 and beyond.

According to the DOI, the Colorado River Basin plays a vital role in supplying water to approximately 40 million people, 30 Tribal Nations, nearly 5.5 million acres of agricultural land, and diverse ecological habitats spanning multiple Western states and Mexico. However, low reservoir levels pose a significant challenge to its sustainability.

The post-2026 planning process builds on previous endeavors that have already brought stakeholders together to develop consensus-driven water conservation solutions. By the end of October, a draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement will be issued to revise the December 2007 Record of Decision, setting interim guidelines through the end of 2026. The post-2026 planning process represents the next crucial step in shaping the future of this vital system.

The Department of the Interior has already announced substantial investments in Colorado River Basin states, including water recycling projects, water conservation funding, infrastructure repairs, and drought resiliency initiatives. These investments are pivotal in protecting the Colorado River's long-term sustainability and the communities it supports.


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