I think (?) there’s an Arizona Colorado River deal? Episode II

I’m moderating a panel on the Lower Basin Drought Contingency Plan at this year’s meeting of the Colorado River Water Users Association in Las Vegas (NV) in a couple of weeks. What shall we talk about?

Arizona’s water agencies, cities, farmers and tribes haven’t quite sealed a Colorado River deal. But they’re getting closer.

The outline of a new compromise proposal emerged this week and was presented at a meeting on Thursday. The plan would help Arizona join in a proposed three-state Drought Contingency Plan by spreading the impacts of the water cutbacks, providing “mitigation” water to farmers in central Arizona while paying compensation to other entities that would contribute water.

That’s the Arizona Republic’s Ian James on the latest in Arizona’s struggle to find a way to scale back its water use as Lake Mead drops.

Here’s some scene-setting data as the Colorado River brain trust prepares to converge on Caesar’s Palace:

  • U.S. Lower Basin use is currently forecast to end 2018 at 7.13 million acre feet, below the Arizona-California-Nevada allotment of 7.5maf. Yay conservation! (source pdf)
  • Upper Basin deliveries from Lake Powell are on track at 9 million acre feet this year, way above the 8.23maf “required” (lawyers don’t @ me) under the Colorado River Compact. Yay bonus water!
  • Lake Mead is still 2.5 feet lower than last year at this time. Boo overallocation!

See you in Vegas.

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