UNITED STATES NEWS

California agencies float Colorado River water cuts proposal

Oct 5, 2022, 4:00 PM | Updated: Oct 6, 2022, 8:45 am
FILE - Water flows along the All-American Canal Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022, near Winterhaven, Calif. T...

FILE - Water flows along the All-American Canal Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022, near Winterhaven, Calif. The canal conveys water from the Colorado River into the Imperial Valley. California water agencies that rely on the Colorado River, said Wednesday, Oct 5, 2022, that they can reduce their use by up to 400,000 acre feet annually, an amount that's roughly one-tenth of the river water the state receives. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull, File)

(AP Photo/Gregory Bull, File)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California water agencies that rely on the parched Colorado River said Wednesday they can reduce their use by one-tenth starting in 2023 in response to calls for cuts from the federal government.

The agencies, which supply water to farmers and millions of people in Southern California, laid out their proposal in a letter to the U.S. Department of the Interior. It comes as drought exacerbated by climate change continues to diminish the river, and months after the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation first called on users to voluntarily limit their reliance on it.

California shares the river’s water with six other states, tribes and Mexico. It has rights to the single largest share and is the last to lose water in times of shortage.

The proposal to cut 400,000 acre feet annually marks the first time California water agencies are publicly and formally indicating what they’re willing to give up since federal officials demanded major cuts this summer. California has been under pressure from other states to figure out how to use less as river reservoirs drop so low they risk losing the ability to generate hydropower and deliver water.

“While a broad multi-state agreement to conserve water across the Basin has not been reached, the California agencies propose to take voluntary action now to conserve water in coming months,” the California agencies wrote.

An acre-foot of water is enough to supply about two households for a year. California is entitled to 4.4 million acre feet of Colorado River water each year.

Four California agencies use the river’s water: The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, the Imperial Irrigation District, the Palo Verde Irrigation District and the Coachella Valley Water District.

The proposed cuts are contingent on the water agencies getting money from the $4 billion in drought relief included in the Inflation Reduction Act, as well as a commitment by the federal government to help clean up the Salton Sea, a drying lake fed by diminishing runoff from Imperial Valley farms.

The letter was scant on details. The agencies said they have “a collection of proposed water conservation and water use reduction opportunities” that would help keep more water in Lake Mead, one of the river’s key reservoirs.

It did not list any specific projects, or specify the rate of payment the agencies are expecting. But the federal government has previously said the $4 billion could be used for short-term conservation measures, like paying farmers to leave their fields unplanted, and long-term efficiency projects such as lining canals to prevent water loss.

The Imperial Irrigation District receives a larger share of the river than any other entity. It’s the only source of water for crops in California’s southeastern desert, where many of the nation’s winter vegetables, like broccoli, as well as feed crops like alfalfa are grown.

The district is willing to contribute up to 250,000 of the acre-feet committed by California, General Manager Henry Martinez said in a statement.

Farmers in the valley are already planning out their crops for next year. The longer it takes to reach a final deal, the more money farmers could expect as compensation for leaving their fields unplanted, said JB Hamby, a member of the district’s board.

“If you want more participation, the prices will need to be higher,” he said.

The Metropolitan Water District relies on the Colorado River to provide a third of Southern California’s urban water supply. In a statement, General Manager Adel Hagekhalil didn’t commit to a specific conservation number but said the district will work with its users and board to figure out a reasonable amount.

The Interior Department did not have a comment on the letter, spokesman Tyler Cherry said.

All eyes have been on California to offer cuts. Both Arizona and Nevada were told in August they’d get less water under earlier drought agreements.

Tom Buschatzke, director of the Arizona Department of Water Resources, declined to comment specifically on California’s letter. But he said earlier Wednesday that Arizona cannot be expected to contribute more than California, considering it stands to lose more under mandatory cuts because of the existing priority structure.

“We want more equitable guidelines, it’s not gallon per gallon,” he said.

The Salton Sea formed in 1905, when the Colorado River overflowed, and was once considered a destination. But the lake has been drying up in recent decades, exposing residents to harmful dust and hurting ecosystems.

In 2019, when the Lower Basin states negotiated a drought plan, the irrigation district refused to sign on because it didn’t come with money for the sea.

California’s letter said any conservation efforts would require a commitment by the federal government to help stabilize the sea.

__

Associated Press writer Felicia Fonseca contributed from Flagstaff, Arizona.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Lifetime Windows & Doors

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

United States News

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron speaks at a news conference on Monday, Nov. 28, 2022, in F...
Associated Press

Kentucky AG avoids talk of more exceptions to abortion ban

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky’s attorney general stood firmly behind the state’s near-total abortion ban Monday, saying he promotes Kentucky values “without fear or favor” though the Republican gubernatorial stopped short of saying whether he supports adding more exceptions to the ban. At a news conference, Daniel Cameron refrained from commenting on calls for the […]
15 hours ago
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., speaks on the House floor at the Capitol in Washington, Thurs...
Associated Press

HBO to air Nancy Pelosi doc shot by daughter Alexandra

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A documentary on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s life and groundbreaking political career, shot and edited by her daughter, will debut on HBO next month. Alexandra Pelosi’s “Pelosi in the House” will premiere Dec. 13 and will include footage shot during the Jan. 6 insurrection. Some of that footage, including moments when […]
15 hours ago
Associated Press

FBI confirms remains in landfill belong to Georgia toddler

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — The FBI on Monday confirmed that the bones found in a Georgia landfill are those of a toddler who had been reported missing last month and whose mother was arrested last week on charges including murder. The FBI used DNA analysis to confirm that the bones belonged to 20-month-old Quinton Simon, […]
15 hours ago
Associated Press

Attorneys: ‘Botched’ execution caused pain and torture

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama prison staff strapped an inmate to a death chamber gurney, despite a court order in place at the time blocking the execution from going forward, and later subjected him to numerous needle jabs, including in the neck and collarbone region while an official held his head, attorneys wrote in a […]
15 hours ago
FILE - Joseph Percoco, a former aide to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, arrives at federal court for hi...
Associated Press

Supreme Court sympathetic to group convicted in NY scandal

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court seemed ready Monday to side with a onetime top aide to ex-New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and others convicted of corruption related to an upstate economic development project dubbed the Buffalo Billion. Both liberal and conservative justices seemed sympathetic to the group over approximately two and a half hours […]
15 hours ago
Associated Press

Pennsylvania county deadlocks on certifying election results

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. (AP) — Officials in a northeastern Pennsylvania county where paper shortages caused Election Day ballot problems deadlocked Monday on whether to report official vote tallies to the state, effectively preventing their certification of the results. Two Democratic members of the Luzerne County Board of Elections and Voter Registration voted to certify, both Republicans […]
15 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet edges out cable for everyday use

In a world where technology drives so much of our daily lives, a lack of high-speed internet can be a major issue.
(Desert Institute for Spine Care photo)...
DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Why DISC is world renowned for back and neck pain treatments

Fifty percent of Americans and 90% of people at least 50 years old have some level of degenerative disc disease.
...
SCHWARTZ LASER EYE CENTER

Key dates for Arizona sports fans to look forward to this fall

Fall brings new beginnings in different ways for Arizona’s professional sports teams like the Cardinals and Coyotes.
California agencies float Colorado River water cuts proposal