Arizona water authorities weigh in on Colorado River plan

A picture of Lake Mead - Hoover Dam
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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 statementOpens in a new tab. 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 “explainerOpens in a new tab.” 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.


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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April 16, 2023 8:02 pm
I find the photo both beautiful and haunting. I think it’s vital that all the states involved work together on management to try to avoid issues. I am grateful in the new knowledge that the CAP is 336 miles long. I had no idea.

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