April 14, 2023 – The same day that the Bureau of Reclamation issued its draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) regarding management of the Colorado River System, Arizona’s leading water authorities issued a press statement, writing that they are reviewing the draft and encouraging all states in the basin — Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming — to share the burdens of effective management.
The Central Arizona Project and Department of Water Resources’ joint statement reads,
We are encouraged that Reclamation is acting to address the 23-year drought on the Colorado River Basin. One good water year is not enough to protect the system.
More action is necessary.
We are reviewing the draft and intend to provide comments to Reclamation within 45 days.
We’re hopeful the alternatives that are laid out in the draft Environmental Impact Statement can help us move toward a seven state agreement and avoid conflict in the Colorado River basin.
As we have said in the past, burdens associated with managing risks on the Colorado River must be shared across all sectors and by all water users.
We recognize the draft SEIS calls for short-term actions. Ultimately, we will need long-term solutions to protect Arizonans.
An “explainer” was published by the Central Arizona Project on February 1 that outlines, in laypersons’ terms, the meaning of the SEIS and the modeling alternatives supported by all of the Colorado River Basin states except California. The Project writes that “This modeling alternative is not a formal agreement and does not change current operating conditions (currently, the Lower Colorado River Basin is in a Tier 2a shortage). Rather it provides an alternative framework for Reclamation to analyze in its SEIS process. Reclamation is expected to release its draft SEIS in March 2023 and a final SEIS in late spring. A record of decision could come in summer 2023 that would allow for implementation in 2024.”
With a 336-mile system, the Central Arizona Project delivers water to Maricopa, Pinal and Pima counties, delivering water to more than 80% of the state’s population.
The Arizona Department of Water Resources was legislatively created in 1980 and assumed the responsibilities of the Arizona Water Commission and the State Water Engineer relating to surface water, groundwater, dams and reservoirs.