Bennet, Gardner secure Drought Contingency Plan win for Colorado
WASHINGTON — Colorado U.S. Sens. Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner last week helped secure congressional passage of the Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan Authorization Act, following introduction of the bill six days earlier.
Once signed into law by the president, the legislation will authorize the implementation of the Drought Contingency Plan agreements forged between the seven Colorado River Basin states and Indian tribes.
“The Colorado River is the lifeblood of our economy, but in recent years we’ve experienced some of the worst drought conditions in centuries.” Bennet said. “Passing the Drought Contingency Plan is a win for the millions of people across the West who rely on the Colorado River. Following the leadership of Coloradans and communities across the seven affected states, we are now one step closer to countering drought, addressing climate change, and strengthening Colorado’s agricultural and outdoor recreation-based economy.”
“Tens of millions of people in the western United States rely on the Colorado River to provide water for agricultural, municipal, and consumptive use, as well as support for our growing recreation economy,” Gardner said. “In the face of long term drought, the Colorado River states have come together to successfully create coordinated plans that would aid efforts to prevent severe water shortages in the region and stabilize water storage levels at Lake Mead and Lake Powell. I’m glad to see this common sense legislation head to the president’s desk to be signed into law.”
The Drought Contingency Plan enjoys widespread support in Colorado, including from the state and multiple Front Range and Western Slope water utilities.
Earlier this month, Bennet and Gardner introduced the Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan Authorization Act. The Colorado River Basin drains more than 246,000 square miles across seven states and Mexico. More than 40 million people in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming depend on the river for drinking water, farming irrigation, and hydropower. Since 2000, the Colorado River has experienced its most severe drought in 100 years of record keeping and what may be the one of the driest periods in the last 1,200 years according to paleo-records. The Drought Contingency Plan was negotiated between the seven Colorado River Basin States and Indian tribes to respond to this prolonged drought. It is designed to protect lakes Mead and Powell from reaching certain critical water elevations that would trigger severe water supply reductions and hydropower impacts, including the risk of reaching crises levels where operational control of the Colorado River System is lost. ❖