Chair Grijalva Will Introduce Colo. River Drought Contingency Plan Authorization Act Today – Vows Swift Committee Movement, Urges Senate to Act Fast

Washington, D.C. – Chair Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) today will introduce the Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan Authorization Act, a bill to approve the water management agreement recently reached by the seven states in the Colorado River Basin to reduce to impacts of drought and climate change-induced water shortages across the West. Grijalva has vowed to move the bill – available at http://bit.ly/2YLpFAi – quickly through the Natural Resources Committee, which oversees the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the federal agency responsible for implementing certain provisions of the agreement.

Grijalva has played a central role in helping advance solutions to address the historic drought in the Colorado River Basin. James Eklund, Gov. Jared Polis’ (D-Colo.) lead Colorado River policy representative, praised Grijalva’s “strong leadership” today, saying his efforts have put states throughout the Colorado River Basin “in position to wisely manage this lifeline of the American West.”

Statements of support for the bill, including a supportive letter from a coalition of seven environmental organizations, are available below.

“States worked together, and now it’s time for Congress to work together and finish this process while we still have time,” Grijalva said today. “The House will move this bill quickly and the Senate should follow suit. Any foot-dragging or needless delay is going to worsen an already risky situation for the millions of people who rely on Colorado River water every day.”

 The agreement between Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, Utah, California and Wyoming was the subject of a March 28 hearing in the Water, Oceans, and Wildlife Subcommittee, where each of those states’ respective Colorado River management officials and Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman offered their support. The bill is cosponsored by Reps. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.), Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.), Rob Bishop (R-Utah), Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.), Debbie Lesko (R-Ariz.), Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.), Tom O’Halleran (D-Ariz.), Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.), Greg Stanton (D-Ariz.), Chris Stewart (R-Utah), Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), Deb Haaland (D-N.M.), Mike Levin (D-Calif.), Ben McAdams (D-Utah), Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.), Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), David Schweikert (R-Ariz.), Dina Titus (D-Nev.), Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.).

The agreement establishes new water conservation measures to protect reservoir levels at Lake Mead and Lake Powell. The bill and underlying agreement use voluntary water reductions and innovative management strategies to avoid historic lows in Colorado River reservoirs, which would trigger dramatic water delivery cuts to the seven states.

Statements of Support

“As the Headwaters State, Colorado supports this legislation and the Colorado River contingency plan that strengthens its environments and communities. Water stress exacerbated by climate change is here now, so we must act. Chairman Grijalva’s strong leadership has put the Basin States in position to wisely manage this lifeline of the American West.” – James Eklund, Colorado Commissioner, Upper Colorado River Commission

“Thanks to Chairman Grijalva for bringing diverse stakeholders together, including Arizona and the Basin States, water users, tribes and environmental groups, in support of this bill, which is vital to protecting the health of the Colorado River. I want to express my gratitude to the Arizona delegation, whose bipartisan support is indicative of the importance of this bill to the state.” – Thomas Buschatzke, Director, Arizona Department of Water Resources

“Utah wholeheartedly supports the drought contingency plans, the benefits they will bring and the straightforward legislation needed to implement those plans.  Given the critical need, the benefits that will occur and the hardship that will be avoided, Utah asks Congress to pass the legislation required to make these drought contingency plans a reality.” – Eric Millis, Director, Utah Division of Water Resources

 "California looks forward to appropriate legislation being passed with broad bipartisan support. At the same time, we must work together to secure additional funding for the long-term management of the Salton Sea. Success on this front can then provide the Imperial Irrigation District with the certainty it needs for its participation in the DCP too.”  – Peter Nelson, Chairman, Colorado River Board of California

“As the final step in a multi-year, state-driven process of collaboration and compromise among the river’s many stakeholders, the congressional authorization to implement the DCP protects the tens of millions of Americans and economies that depend upon this river.” – John Entsminger, General Manager, Southern Nevada Water Authority

“The Drought Contingency Plans in the Colorado River Basin are an indispensable bridge to that time when we successfully negotiate a water management framework for beyond 2026.  They help reduce the Lower Basin's water use when Lake Mead is low, allow Mexico's participation, and provide the Upper Basin with tools to hopefully avoid curtailment if the drought deepens.  With these plans, we have direction.  Without them, we face an uncertain future and increased risks.  It is time to move forward with these plans, and the legislation that enables them.” –Patrick Tyrrell, State Engineer, Wyoming

“New Mexico appreciates Congress’ willingness to work expeditiously to introduce and pass law to implement the Colorado River Drought Contingency Plans.  These plans are a collective effort, supported by local, state and federal stakeholders in a bi-partisan fashion.  They will help reduce the risk to New Mexico, and all six other Colorado River Basin States of potentially severe effects of drought, now and in the future.” – John D’Antonio, State Engineer, New Mexico

“The introduction of this legislation today by Chairman Grijalva is an essential step in completing the DCP journey we have all been on together for such a long time.  His leadership in the House has been essential to resolving the concerns of all parties and ensuring that the legislation has bipartisan support and can move forward quickly.  I know all of Arizona applauds his efforts at getting the DCP legislation across the finish line.” – Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis, Gila River Indian Community

“No stakeholder has a greater interest in the wellbeing of the river than the indigenous people who have lived here since time immemorial. It is imperative that Congress quickly enacts this legislation so that we all can continue to rely on this vital resource that sustains the life and economy of our region and the culture of the Aha Makav people.” – Vice Chairman Keith Moses, Colorado River Indian Tribes 

Seven environmental advocacy groups sent a joint April 1 letter urging Congress to support Grijalva’s bill. The letter, available at http://bit.ly/2TVz5pe, notes that Lakes Powell and Mead “could reach critically low levels as early as 2021 if conditions do not significantly improve. Declining reservoirs threaten water supplies that are essential to the economy, environment, and health of the Southwestern United States.”

The coalition letter is signed by:

Matt Rice, American Rivers

Kevin Moran, Environmental Defense Fund

Julie Hill-Gabriel, National Audubon Society

Taylor Hawes, The Nature Conservancy

Melinda Kassen, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership

Steve Moyer, Trout Unlimited

Bart Miller, Western Resource Advocates

Press Contact

Adam Sarvana

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