PHOENIX (AP) – The House of Representatives and the Senate approved a drought contingency plan on the Colorado River on Monday and sent it to President Donald Trump for enactment.
Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming spent years negotiating the plan to deal with the drought in this river, which supplies water to 40 million people in the western United States. They want to prevent the level of two key dams from dropping so low that they can no longer supply the liquid or operate as hydroelectric.
Mexico has promised to store its fair water at the Lake Mead dam on the Arizona-Nevada border if the bill passes April 22.
State water managers and federal officials have pointed to prolonged drought, climate change and an increase in demand as the reasons to cut the flow. The agreement would be in force until 2026.
In the lower basin, Arizona and Nevada would maintain the water in Lake Mead when it drops to certain levels. The cuts would eventually include California if the level of that dam falls enough.
The measure approved Monday reflects states’ proposals, but also includes a section that says federal environmental laws will continue to apply within the drought plan.
The Imperial Irrigation District in California, which has the greatest right to use the Colorado River water, and environmental groups had raised concerns about parts of the text that they believed meant that federal laws such as the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act would be ignored.