A deal was struck Monday by seven Colorado River basin states to conserve an unprecedented amount of water from the important water source.
Instead of the federal government coming in to regulate the water, the states came to an agreement that requires California, Arizona, and Colorado to conserve 3 million acre-feet of water through 2026. That’s no easy task.
In return, the US government is supplying $1 billion in federal funding.
The Colorado River provides drinking water for 40 million people in the US, along with two states in Mexico. It’s also a source of power and a relied-upon resource for numerous tribal nations. Water supply has dwindled after a decade-long drought. Lake Mead is stark example.
Coming to an agreement is an incredible feat, considering the current value of water. The deal involves detangling century-long claims to a natural resource both domestically and in the case of Mexico, internationally. So, while this deal is for a water-starved region hundreds of miles away, it may lay out a blueprint for Texas and it’s struggle with water conservation. To be clear, Texas is in much better shape than our counterparts to the west, but recent fights over Rio Grande River water does show some similarities.
Texas and New Mexico did come to an agreement over the Rio Grande, however, it still needs final approval by the Supreme Court.
Meantime, Texas and Mexico operate under a 1944 treaty in which Mexico is to deliver a set amount of water from the Rio Grande to Texas over a 5-year period. This arrangement has been contentious in the past. There are also tribal nations that lay claim to the water.
All of this to say that water is becoming more and more valuable. Yes, we are forecast to come out of our current drought this year. But, this isn’t the first drought and it won’t be the last. As populations along waterways explode, the issue will become even more complicated in the future and may require compromise. In addition, the framework deals that are developed now may have large implications for years to come.
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