Amid Drought, 7 States Reach 'Critical' Agreement on How to Manage Colorado River

October 15, 2018

By Associated Press

Seven Southwestern U.S. states that depend on the overtaxed Colorado River have reached landmark agreements on how to manage the waterway amid an unprecedented drought, including a commitment by California to bear part of the burden before it is legally required to do so, officials said Tuesday.

The agreements are tentative and must be approved by multiple states and agencies as well as the U.S. government. But they are seen as a milestone in the effort to preserve the river, which supports 40 million people and 6,300 square miles (16,300 square kilometers) of farmland in the U.S. and Mexico.

"I think it's a critical step," said Pat Mulroy, former manager of the Southern Nevada Water Authority, which serves Las Vegas and other cities, and now a senior fellow at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas law school.

The agreements create a collection of drought contingency plans designed to manage and minimize the effects of declining flows in the Colorado and its tributaries. Some plans were made public Tuesday. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which manages major reservoirs across the West, is expected to release others Wednesday.

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