More water restrictions likely as California pledges to cut use of Colorado River supply in drought
The Colorado River has no shortage of water, and no shortage of people. But those who live, farm and work along its banks have been struggling against a drought-ravaged state and federal government.
A growing number of cities and other entities have begun to seek permission to take water from the river to avert future shortages.
On Thursday, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced the state of California had signed a memorandum of understanding with state officials promising to limit or stop using of the Colorado River in times of drought.
In a press release, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said the partnership — to start on December 1 and end on March 31, 2014, with a total of about 60 cities and other entities on the receiving end — was a first for the state.
The agreement calls for the state to put in place “all necessary means” to control water flows to certain parts of the Colorado River Basin, according to the state Water Resources Department.
“This agreement with the state represents a milestone in our commitment to ensuring that no one is forced to choose between water and food, or between water and housing,” Hickenlooper said in a written statement.
The agreement, he said, “marks a new commitment to the health and well-being of Southern California communities, and is in line with the state’s commitment to restore the Colorado River to a stable flow.”
The agreement aims to maintain water levels for urban systems and help reduce water-use in the agricultural sector in years in which water supplies for cities are threatened, according to a statement from the Hickenlooper administration.
“I look forward to working with the state’s officials to find solutions that will provide enough water to sustain the current demand and future supply needs of the state,” said Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat.
The agreement also calls for the state to build a new reservoir to the east of the one on the state’s northern border, the state Water Resources Department said.
Water use in the state has been falling for years as more water is being withdrawn from aquifers under the state water law and from the Colorado River basin, according