California Water Districts Offer Water Cuts From Colorado River As River Suffers

California Water Districts Offer Water Cuts From Colorado River As River Suffers

California water agencies are offering to cut water supplies to towns and farms in order to save the Colorado River which is facing a devastating drought, but the cuts could further harm an already dry region of farmland.

“California water agencies that utilize Colorado River water supplies propose to conserve up to an additional 400,000 acre-feet of water in Lake Mead each year, beginning in 2023 and running through 2026,” officials said in a letter. “This water, which would otherwise be used by California’s communities and farms, will meaningfully contribute to stabilizing the Colorado River reservoir system.”

The amount of reduction would come to around 9% of the state’s entire allocation of water from the river for the coming four years, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Leaders who signed the letter are from the Imperial Irrigation District, the Colorado River Board of California, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, the Coachella Valley Water District, and the Palo Verde Irrigation District Board of Trustees.

This summer, the seven states that receive water from the Colorado River were asked by federal authorities to generate strategies to cut yearly water diversions, but the states couldn’t come to an agreement on the water cuts.

The groups requested specific assistance in detailing their proposition.

“In order to enable this water conservation, our agencies will need to utilize funding opportunities provided by the Inflation Reduction Act and other federal programs,” the groups wrote in their letter. “Each of the California agencies involved in developing this package of proposed conserved water supplies will also require your support in developing agreements for funding, potential intra- and inter- state coordination, water use accounting, and in obtaining necessary board and agency approvals over the coming weeks and months.”

Metropolitan Water District of Southern California authorities reportedly said they are planning to support water cuts that would impact 19 million people.

The majority of the water California gets from the Colorado River is given to the Imperial Irrigation District (IID), according to CalMatters and the Times. According to the IID’s website, the Imperial Valley relies entirely on the Colorado River for its source of surface water. IID takes in water from the river and then sends it out, with most of it going toward farming purposes. It also gives water to seven local municipal agencies.

The Imperial Irrigation District reportedly provides water to almost 500,000 acres of agricultural land in California. The IID said it could reduce 250,000 acre-feet of water each year with a few contingencies.

In August, the Biden administration’s Bureau of Reclamation announced there would be water cuts to Nevada, Arizona, and Mexico. The Lower Colorado River Basin came to a “Tier 2” shortage for the first time ever.