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Southwest States Unite for Historic Colorado River Conservation Plan

a large body of water surrounded by mountains.

In a significant step towards water conservation, seven Southwest states, including Arizona, Colorado, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming have collaborated on a new Colorado River water usage plan, as announced by the Biden administration. This new water conservation strategy, submitted to the Bureau of Reclamation, highlights how the Lower Basin states, namely Arizona, Nevada, and California, are committing to save an additional 3 million acre-feet of river water by 2026.

The Lower Basin Plan, designed to stabilize the Colorado River system up to 2026, provides federal funding to various beneficiaries, including cities, irrigation districts, and Native American tribes, encouraging them to reduce water usage. The specifics of the federal funding allocation remain undisclosed.

Facing the impacts of climate change and a severe long-term drought, these states have taken proactive steps to protect the Lake Powell and Lake Mead reservoirs. The Department of the Interior echoes this sense of urgency, announcing plans to create new operating guidelines tailored to current environmental challenges.

Serving as a vital resource, the Colorado River meets the essential needs of 40 million individuals, seven states, and 30 Tribal Nations. With California pledging to make the largest water cuts, Arizona and Nevada are to share the remainder. As a result of the new, more encompassing plan presented by the Western states, the Interior Department has decided to withdraw its previous proposal, with plans to reintroduce it later this year.

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