The U.S. government announced Monday that seven western states reached a historic agreement to protect the Colorado River, whose flow has been shrunk by a quarter-century of drought and worsening weather conditions.
“Forty million people, seven states, and 30 tribal nations depend on the Colorado River Basin for basic services such as drinking water and electricity,” U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland said in a statement. He praised the agreement that put an end to the conflict over the years. .
The effort was led by three states in the lower reaches of this river in the American Southwest: California, Nevada (west), and Arizona (southwest).
The agreement commits to voluntarily adopt measures to save 3.7 billion cubic meters of water between now and 2026.
Some of those savings will be “offset by funds from the Control Inflation Act,” a major climate law passed in Washington last year, according to the statement.
Democrat Joe Biden’s administration has threatened to impose blanket restrictions if talks stall.
In a statement, the president celebrated that the agreement “represents an important step in our efforts to keep the Colorado River system stable in the face of climate change and historically dry conditions.”
Meanwhile, California Gov. Gavin Newsom welcomed the agreement in a statement, stressing that “the entire western United States is on the front line against climate change,” and that “we will be able to deal with extreme weather during this crisis and drought.” We will work together to do so,” he said. and flood.
“California is moving to significantly reduce its water use, and this historic agreement between California and other downstream states will help millions of Americans benefit from critical water resources. It will help us maintain supply,” he added.
For Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs, the deal is the result of “months of hard work.”
“We now see a path to raising reservoir levels in the short term. From there, our efforts must continue to act and address the long-term problem of climate change,” he said in a separate statement. rice field.
The Colorado River flows from the Rocky Mountains (parallel to the West Coast) to the Gulf of California in northwestern Mexico.
Lake Mead, Nevada’s largest reservoir, will drop to its lowest level since the Hoover Dam in 2022, exposing slopes not seen since the 1930s and the dead body of an alleged Las Vegas rioter. A murder victim has also been found.
Last year, federal officials asked seven western states — Utah, Colorado, Wyoming and New Mexico — to agree to cut consumption by up to 40% of the river’s flow.
Six states had proposed imposing most of these limits on California, but California did not accept the plans and later issued counterproposals suggesting that cuts would be made primarily upstream.
The system, which has regulated the distribution of river water for more than a century, has favored farmers in California, the nation’s most populous state.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom said on Monday that “California has taken matters into its own hands” by promising to significantly reduce water use. “The entire western United States is on the front line of climate change. We must work together to address this crisis.”