When the folks at Island Press asked a bunch of their authors to offer up advice to the incoming president, whoever that might be (“If you were advisor to the president, what would your top priority be and why?“), I tried to keep in mind a fundamental principle that guides my work – the art of the possible. I tried to think of things that were not simply generally aspirational, but things a president can actually do:
Maintaining and extending the collaborative relationship with the Republic of Mexico over the shared waters of the Colorado River should be a sustained priority. The 2012 agreement known as “Minute 319”, signed in 2012, included important water sharing provisions and for the first time allowed water to be returned to the desiccated Colorado River for the environment and the communities of Mexico. The deal was an important milestone, but it was only a temporary agreement. We need permanent solutions to the overuse of the Colorado River, and sustaining our partnership with Mexico is a critical piece.
The executive branch has few degrees of freedom on water management, but international diplomacy is clearly under the purview of the president and their appointees.