Historic Drought Plan Approved by Congress
"Two weeks after water officials told Congress there was urgent need to approve the Colorado River drought contingency plan, the House and Senate both passed a plan Monday and sent it to the president’s desk," reports Andrew Howard.
Congressional approval brings the Drought Contingency Plan (DCP) one critical step closer to final approval, in a "culmination of years of negotiations between the seven states in the Colorado River Basin on how much each state can draw from the river if Lake Powell and Lake Mead drop to crisis levels."
As approved by both houses of Congress, the Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan Authorization Act "[requires] that the Interior secretary authorize the water allocation agreement [pdf] hammered out by Arizona and the six other basin states. That deal is designed to prevent a potential water crisis and settle disputes over who gives up water if the river reaches a crisis level," according to Howard.
Included in that allocation agreement, for instance, is mandatory rationing for Arizona in the event that water levels in Lake Mead fall below a certain point.
As noted by recent Planetizen coverage, the DCP contains serious implications for the Salton Sea in California and the city of Las Vegas as well, in addition to the broader implications for Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, California, and Mexico.