Colorado River Basin States Approve Water Proposal

Water officials from the seven states that share the Colorado River came to a historic agreement on a long-discussed system management plan. The goals: to mitigate shortages on the drought-stricken Colorado River and to avoid the risk of curtailments in the river system.

The seven basin states have been meeting since December 2004 to reach an agreement, and water managers from the seven basin states signed off on the plan. Additional agreements will need to be reached among the states before the provisions can be implemented. Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) General Manager Pat Mulroy said she is confident of the direction the plan is taking.

"This has opened a whole new door for Nevada," she said. "The plan includes increased water resources for Southern Nevada and makes the entire river system more flexible. It is also a key part of SNWA's goal to ensure adequate water resources for the community."

Among the provisions of the agreement, Nevada, California and Arizona would be able to "bank" water in Lake Mead. Additionally, the criteria for declaring a shortage on the river would be tied to Lake Mead's water level. Shortages would be shared among Nevada, Arizona and Mexico and would vary depending on Lake Mead's water level.

In addition, the Water Authority would fund research aimed at finding other possible water resources, such as desalination (http://www.snwa.com/html/wr_colrvr_transfers.html) and inland desalting, which would further enhance the Colorado River system.

The plan was sent to Interior Secretary Gale Norton on Feb. 3 for consideration. Over the course of the next two years, officials will work collaboratively to iron out the details of the plan.

For additional information on the plan, contact the SNWA at http://www.snwa.com/html/index.html.

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