California, Arizona and Nevada negotiators signed a Colorado River water agreement

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Negotiators for California, Arizona and Nevada signed an agreement to voluntarily reduce their use of Colorado River water for the next two years. The goal is to stave off more severe “mandatory” cutbacks. For details on the agreement, we spoke to Sarah Porter, Director of the KYL Center for Water Policy at ASU’s Morrison Institute.

“The 500-plus plan is a big deal indeed…I am here in Las Vegas at the Colorado River Water Users Association annual meeting…the purpose of which is to save or conserve an extra 500,000 acre-feet of water in Lake Meade,” Porter explained.

She began to provide some perspective on water usage in Arizona and the surrounding states.

“The lower-basin states, Arizona, California and Nevada are allocated 7 and 1/2 million acre-feet of water. We were already in a plan because we had an announcement of a shortage in August, a plan to conserve from Arizona almost 600,000 acre-feet of water,” Porter said.

Porter continued that other low-basin states were planning to conserve water in Lake Meade but it was smaller.

Now there’s a plan to boost the conservation of water in Lake Meade to another 500,000 acre-feet.

She added that this is a very significant effort to leave water in Lake Meade in order to keep the lake level from crashing to a point in which the reservoir isn’t functioning and power can’t be produced.

In regards to the proportionality of 500,000 acre-feet and how that translates to each household, “3 households use about 1 acre-foot of water per year so about 1.5 million households” would equate to that amount of water.

Porter said that Arizona’s part in these agreements has arguably the largest role. The Department of Arizona Resources is committing a large amount of funding and so is the Central Arizona Project.

Sarah Porter, Director of the KYL Center for Water Policy at ASU's Morrison Institute

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