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Biden administration announces $295M investment in Colorado River conservation agreements with California agencies

The Biden administration and multiple California water agencies signed agreements on Wednesday that will direct $295 million of federal dollars into Colorado River water conservation.

The initial partnerships aim to conserve up to 643,000 acre-feet of water in Lake Mead, the basin’s largest storage reservoir, through 2025, according to the Bureau of Reclamation.

For reference, California’s total annual Colorado River allocation is 4.4 million acre-feet out of 15 million acre-feet basin-wide. The Golden State has among the highest priority water rights across the system.

“These agreements represent another critical step in our collective efforts to address the water management challenges the Colorado River Basin faces due to drought and climate change,” Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Camille Touton said in a statement.

“Addressing the drought crisis requires an all-hands-on-deck approach, and close collaboration among federal, state, tribal and local communities,” she added.

The initiatives signed on Wednesday include an agreement with the Coachella Valley Water District to save up to 105,000 acre-feet through 2025 and another with the Quechan Indian Tribe to preserve up to 39,000 acre-feet through 2025.

At the signing, which took place in Nevada, officials also commemorated a recent partnership with the Imperial Irrigation District to conserve about 100,000 acre-feet of water this year.

Additional conservation partnerships are expected to occur in the coming weeks with the Palo Verde Irrigation District and the Bard Water District — in cooperation with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California — and a second agreement with Coachella Valley.

All in all, the upcoming efforts aim to conserve up to 1.6 million acre-feet of water in Lake Mead, according to a joint release from the California water agencies.

“Less than a year ago, we faced the worst possible consequences of drought and interstate conflict,” JB Hamby, chairman of the Colorado River Board of California and Colorado River commissioner for California, said in a statement.

Crediting the various state and federal parties for coming together to conserve this critical resource, he described the outcome as “an incredible turnaround.”


Source: The Hill

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