Seven U.S. states dispute the Colorado River

Seven US states dispute the Colorado River


Seven US states, whose water supplies depend on the Colorado River, which has been overexploited for decades, missed a deadline on Tuesday to agree on a reduction in their consumption.

The Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming had until January 31 to reach an agreement or face cuts from the federal government in Washington. /p>

In the American West, tens of millions of people depend on the Colorado River for their running water. It is a crucial resource for cities like Las Vegas and Los Angeles, as well as for the land of thousands of farmers.

But the reservoirs, which collect water from the river to redistribute it via a multitude of channels, are dangerously low after two decades of drought fueled by global warming.

Faced with this declining resource, six states submitted Monday to the federal agency in charge of water sharing a common plan to reduce their consumption. 

The agreement includes limitations to “mitigate the risk” that the region's two main reservoirs, Lake Powell and Lake Mead, will dry up completely.

But California, with its agricultural sector very greedy in water and which feeds a good part of the United States, is not a signatory of the text. 

Negotiations are bogged down and this is the second time that the Group of Seven has missed a deadline set by Washington. This is starting to generate political friction.

“While many states have worked together to reach a deal that works for everyone, California is refusing to do its part, and in some parts of the world State, it uses more water, not less,” Greg Stanton, elected Democrat from Arizona in the House of Representatives, denounced Tuesday.

The federal government “must take action on this proposal resulting from a consensus” between the six other States, he insisted. “We cannot wait any longer.”

This plan “is a key step in the ongoing dialogue between the seven states, as we continue to seek a collaborative solution to stabilize the system (of sharing) of the Colorado River,” said Arizona Department of Water Resources Director Tom Buschatzke.

Contacted by AFP on Tuesday, California water policy officials did not not answered.