Decision about Colorado River cuts likely to be painful

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There is more demand than supply when it comes to Colorado River water.

Despite monsoons and flash flood watchesOpens in a new tab. throughout the Colorado River basin, the seasonal rain is unlikely to end the drought and fill Lake Mead and Lake Powell, the two major reservoirs on the Colorado River system that are nearing crisis levels.

The Bureau of Reclamation’s mid-June demand that the seven Colorado River basin states submit a proposal on cutting 2-4 million acre-feet of diversionsOpens in a new tab. is unlikely to be met by the mid-August deadline, meaning that the Bureau will decide where cuts will be made.  National GeographicOpens in a new tab. characterizes the upcoming decision:

The Bureau of Reclamation’s Touton gave the states 60 days to come up with a plan for the cuts. How they will accomplish them, and how quickly they can be implemented, is still not clear. The only certainty is that they will be painful, controversial, and dramatic—and they’ll have to happen fast.

Agriculture is likely to be hit the hardest with whatever decision is made.  Irrigation districts in Arizona’s Yuma County and California’s Imperial and Riverside counties control more of the river’s water than any other entity in the basin, and they are proposing a 1 acre-foot per acre cut, according to Brett Walton, a reporter at Circle of BlueOpens in a new tab..


Since 1995, Deborah has owned and operated LegalTech LLC with a focus on water rights. Before moving to Arizona in 1986, she worked as a quality control analyst for Honeywell and in commercial real estate, both in Texas. She learned about Arizona's water rights from the late and great attorney Michael Brophy of Ryley, Carlock & Applewhite. Her side interests are writing (and reading), Wordpress programming and much more.

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Michael Orpi
Michael Orpi
March 5, 2024 7:02 am
Follow the Laws. The laws of the River are already established. Sr. Water Rights. These water laws are in the Colorado water law book. If the Lower Basin has to have water cuts then the Upper Basin must have water cuts as well. Both Basins are Equal. I have a lot of water to lease. About 1800 acre feet. during farming season. Looking for a long term solution. Pay me for my water. Thank you!

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