California’s biggest water supplier is hurting for cash this
year as the recent record-breaking rainy winter means its
customers need to buy less water. The Metropolitan Water
District of Southern California is facing a more than $300
million budget shortfall – about a quarter of its normal
revenue from selling water. The agency, which provides drinking
water for 19 million people including San Diego, is drawing
money out of its cash reserves and taking out a $100 million
loan to make up the shortfall. But long term, its leaders
are talking about changing the way they charge for water,
realizing that decades of conservation policies in California
and diversification of water supplies with desalination and
wastewater recycling means water sales will continue to
The Gila River Indian Community will install solar panels over
one of its canals to produce power and reduce evaporation from
some of its irrigation waterways. The tribe, whose reservation
lies south of Phoenix, signed an agreement with the U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers on Nov. 9 to begin installation of solar
panels that will shade irrigation canals. The first phase will
cover 1,000 feet of canal over the tribe’s I-10 Level Top
Canal, close to the tribe’s northern border. The solar panels
will produce 1 megawatt of electric power in a pilot project to
demonstrate the concept’s feasibility. The power generated from
the $6.7 million project, including a $517,000 grant from the
Bureau of Reclamation, will be used for irrigation facilities
and tribal farmers.
Who could forget last May, when Arizona, California and Nevada
made a three-year pact to conserve water from the Colorado
River? Many thought it couldn’t be done, but with Lake Mead
reservoir levels at a historic low, and the federal government
poised to wrest control of the process, the states agreed to
conserve 10 percent of their water — nearly a billion gallons —
between now and 2026. The deal, greased by an unusually wet
winter, was made possible by $1.2 billion in funding from the
Inflation Reduction Act that would pay water users to conserve.
But those payments, whose contracts are being finalized, may
come with a heavy toll over how much the feds are prepared to
shell out. A new investigation from POLITICO shows that much of
the water states agreed to save under new federally-funded
contracts was already accounted for under cheaper, pre-existing
In the West, ongoing drought and drier future are forcing us
all to think about how we use water differently. One farmer up
in northern Arizona is using ancient practices to grow food.
The Show visited Hopi farmer and University of Arizona faculty
Michael Kotutwa Johnson about 90 minutes north of Flagstaff,
where his fields are located. He explained the ways he grows
corn, squash and beans and why he wants native seeds
repatriated back to Indigenous communities like his.
Businesses and institutions gearing up to comply with a new
state ban on using potable drinking water to irrigate
non-functional lawns will soon get additional help from the
Metropolitan Water District to transform turf into more
sustainable landscaping, thanks to a state grant awarded to the
district. The California Department of Water Resources
presented a $38 million check to Metropolitan officials today
as part of its Urban Community Drought Relief program, which
has awarded over $217 million to 44 projects to help
communities strengthen drought resilience and better prepare
for future dry conditions.
Commercializing the production of synthetic dietary fats could
relieve pressure on a global agricultural sector that is
struggling to decarbonize, a new study has found. The
widespread manufacture of farm-free food could yield numerous
environmental and societal benefits — enabling people to “eat
our way” out of a burgeoning climate crisis, according to the
study authors, who published their findings Monday
in Nature Sustainability. Some benefits would include
reductions in water use and pollution, greater local control
over food production and decreases in weather-related shortage
risks, per the study. Such a shift could also lessen the need
for low-paying and physically taxing labor, while returning
farmlands to their natural state and enhancing biodiversity.
After years of studies, public meetings and deliberation over
the future of the receding Salton Sea, the first visible signs
of major projects at the sea are starting to appear. Local
and state officials are hoping to build on the momentum
generated by the near-completion of the largest project at the
sea to date: The 4,100-acre Species Conservation Habitat
Project along the sea’s southern edge should be finished by the
end of the year; a pilot project along the northern edge is
officially in the works; and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
is in the early stages of a feasibility study focused on
potential long-term solutions at the Salton Sea. … With
further reductions expected due to mandated cuts to Colorado
River water use, the crisis at the Salton Sea has taken on
additional urgency over the past few years.
State lawmakers are advancing a bill that would prohibit the
planting of new, nonfunctional turf. If the bill passes next
year, it would prohibit local and state governments and unit
owners associations from allowing the planting of nonfunctional
turf or nonnative plants or installing artificial turf in
commercial, institutional or industrial properties beginning in
2025. Although new bluegrass could still be planted around
homes, homeowners associations and others would be prohibited
from planting such grass for ornamental purposes in medians or
areas fronting streets, sidewalks or driveways. The bill is not
intended to be retroactive and would not affect already
existing nonfunctional turf.
Leo Ortega started growing spiky blue agave plants on the arid
hillsides around his Southern California home because his wife
liked the way they looked. A decade later, his property is now
dotted with thousands of what he and others hope is a promising
new crop for the state following years of punishing
drought and a push to scale back on groundwater
pumping. … The 49-year-old mechanical engineer is one of
a growing number of Californians planting agave to be harvested
and used to make spirits, much like the way tequila and mezcal
are made in Mexico. The trend is fueled by the need to find
hardy crops that don’t need much water and a booming appetite
for premium alcoholic beverages since the COVID-19 pandemic.
Le Colline is far from the last word on vineyard development in
local mountains, with a bigger KJS & Sorrento project recently
receiving tentative approval from Napa County. The
proposed 28-acre Le Colline project near Angwin, which was
approved administratively in the same manner, became a
flashpoint. The county Board of Supervisors tentatively
overturned that approval on Aug. 15 after opponents filed an
appeal and is to take a final vote on Nov. 7. Napa County
Farm Bureau has questioned whether the county is following its
own agricultural-promoting policies. Environmentalists who
opposed Le Colline applauded the Board of Supervisors’ decision
and pointed to county conservation regulations.
Pasadena’s Winter Watering Schedule goes into effect on
Wednesday, Nov. 1, and reduces outdoor watering to just one day
a week through March. This change marks a reduction from the
two-day-per-week limit in place from April through October.
Watering days are determined by property address. Odd-numbered
addresses may water on Tuesdays and Fridays, while
even-numbered addresses may water on Mondays and Thursdays. All
watering must occur before 9 a.m. or after 6 p.m.
Coca-Cola, several Colorado nonprofits, as well as Denver
Water, the Colorado River District, and a group of irrigators
have launched a new instream flow effort to help keep the
scenic headwaters of the Fraser River wetter in the fall,
aiding fish and habitat in the stream near Winter Park. The
Colorado Water Trust is a nonprofit that works to match
distressed streams with water right holders interested in
selling, donating or leasing water that can be used to boost
streamflows. It spearheaded the Fraser’s 10-year instream flow
agreement. Participants also include Learning By Doing, an East
Slope-West Slope partnership that works on local stream
restoration projects …
Last year, three new directors were elected to the five-member
Marin Municipal Water District Board of Directors. They are a
big part of the effort pushing for a turnaround already
underway. Consumers can’t declare victory until new sources of
water and increased storage facilities are up and running. As
voters demanded, the agency that supplies water to 191,000
southern and central Marin residents is moving in the right
direction. The prior MMWD board majority was slammed for
excessive reliance on conservation while failing to develop
new, dependable water sources. -Written by columnist Dick Spotswood.
Major corporations in water-guzzling industries such as
clothing, food, beverage and technology want to be better
stewards of the freshwater they use — especially as drought,
floods and other extreme weather intensified by climate change
threaten their supply chains. But of 72 companies ranked by a
sustainability nonprofit over the past year, few are close to
achieving their 2030 targets. Last year, Ceres launched an
effort to press companies with large water footprints to
protect those resources and address related financial risks.
… Michael Kiparsky, director of the Wheeler Water
Institute at the University of California, Berkeley, said
having companies report water-related sustainability targets
and mapping their use across supply chains is an important step
to using it better.
California Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot ruffled
some feathers with local water districts Wednesday when he said
the state needs to conserve water like it has with energy. He
made his comments at the Water Education Foundation’s annual
The Utah Rivers Council has released a 12-part plan to bring
the struggling Great Salt Lake back to a sustainable elevation.
The nonprofit unveiled the 4,200 Project Wednesday, which
outlines several policy changes to bring the lake to an
elevation of 4,200 feet above sea level. This “Goldilocks zone”
means the lake’s dust hot spots are covered. Islands become
islands again. Salinity levels are optimal for supporting brine
shrimp, brine flies, and the millions of migrating shorebirds
and waterfowl that depend on them. But it’s going to take a lot
of time and water to get there — the Great Salt Lake currently
sits at 4,192 feet in the south half and 4,189 feet in the
north. The Great Salt Lake’s current record low, set last
November, is 4,188.5 feet.
For California, a mixed bag of results on irrigation regulation
has occurred with the signature of Assembly Bill 1572 into law
by California Governor Gavin Newsom, while Assembly Bill 1573
was ordered to the inactive file by the state’s Senate.
The two bills each had different aims to address conservation
measures in California and targeted various irrigation methods
as a means of advancing that effort. AB1573 was
ordered to inactive file at the request of Sen. Henry Stern,
D-California, in early September. The Irrigation Association,
Fairfax, Virginia, published a letter in June that expressed
deep concern with the bill. The legislation would
have prohibited the use of traditional overhead sprinklers,
defined as including ”spray sprinkler nozzles with application
rate greater than 1.0 inch per hour,” in new or rehabilitated
A wet year and major conservation efforts are paying off in the
short term for the Colorado River, with California, Arizona and
Nevada on track to conserve a record 1 million acre-feet of
water or more by the end of 2023, officials announced last
week. That is an enormous amount of water: about 325 billion
gallons, enough for about 333,000 households for a year. The
water will stay in the badly depleted Lake Mead reservoir and
not be earmarked for any one supplier to use in the future.
… But three California desert water districts are still
awaiting federal approvals and taxpayer dollars to implement
more conservation measures through 2026, when current
guidelines for the river system expire. Environmental reviews
have delayed the process, some said, though others say those
reviews are vital.
On Tuesday night, the Redding City Council unanimously voted to
sign a letter of opposition regarding water regulations that
have been approved for the state of California. City council
voted to take a stand against “Making Conservation A Way Of
Life” a strategy approved by the State Water Board in early
2023 and now officially in effect. … The “Making
Conservation A Way Of Life“ main goal is to reduce urban water
use by more than 400,000 acres by 2030. … City officials
say this ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach doesn’t take varying
natural resources into account.
The states of the Lower Colorado
River Basin have traditionally played an oversized role in
tapping the lifeline that supplies 40 million people in the West.
California, Nevada and Arizona were quicker to build major canals
and dams and negotiated a landmark deal that requires the Upper
Basin to send predictable flows through the Grand Canyon, even
during dry years.
But with the federal government threatening unprecedented water
cuts amid decades of drought and declining reservoirs, the Upper
Basin states of Wyoming, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico are
muscling up to protect their shares of an overallocated river
whose average flows in the Upper Basin have already dropped
20 percent over the last century.
They have formed new agencies to better monitor their interests,
moved influential Colorado River veterans into top negotiating
posts and improved their relationships with Native American
tribes that also hold substantial claims to the river.
It was exactly the sort of deluge
California groundwater agencies have been counting on to
replenish their overworked aquifers.
The start of 2023 brought a parade of torrential Pacific storms
to bone dry California. Snow piled up across the Sierra Nevada at
a near-record pace while runoff from the foothills gushed into
the Central Valley, swelling rivers over their banks and filling
seasonal creeks for the first time in half a decade.
Suddenly, water managers and farmers toiling in one of the
state’s most groundwater-depleted regions had an opportunity to
capture stormwater and bank it underground. Enterprising agencies
diverted water from rushing rivers and creeks into manmade
recharge basins or intentionally flooded orchards and farmland.
Others snagged temporary permits from the state to pull from
streams they ordinarily couldn’t touch.
When the Colorado River Compact was
signed 100 years ago, the negotiators for seven Western states
bet that the river they were dividing would have ample water to
meet everyone’s needs – even those not seated around the table.
A century later, it’s clear the water they bet on is not there.
More than two decades of drought, lake evaporation and overuse of
water have nearly drained the river’s two anchor reservoirs, Lake
Powell on the Arizona-Utah border and Lake Mead near Las Vegas.
Climate change is rendering the basin drier, shrinking spring
runoff that’s vital for river flows, farms, tribes and cities
across the basin – and essential for refilling reservoirs.
The states that endorsed the Colorado River Compact in 1922 – and
the tribes and nation of Mexico that were excluded from the table
– are now straining to find, and perhaps more importantly accept,
solutions on a river that may offer just half of the water that
the Compact assumed would be available. And not only are
solutions not coming easily, the relationships essential for
compromise are getting more frayed.
Momentum is building for a unique
interstate deal that aims to transform wastewater from Southern
California homes and business into relief for the stressed
Colorado River. The collaborative effort to add resiliency to a
river suffering from overuse, drought and climate change is being
shaped across state lines by some of the West’s largest water
Las Vegas, known for its searing summertime heat and glitzy casino fountains, is projected to get even hotter in the coming years as climate change intensifies. As temperatures rise, possibly as much as 10 degrees by end of the century, according to some models, water demand for the desert community is expected to spike. That is not good news in a fast-growing region that depends largely on a limited supply of water from an already drought-stressed Colorado River.
When you oversee the largest
supplier of treated water in the United States, you tend to think
Jeff Kightlinger, general manager of the Metropolitan Water
District of Southern California for the last 15 years, has
focused on diversifying his agency’s water supply and building
security through investment. That means looking beyond MWD’s
borders to ensure the reliable delivery of water to two-thirds of
Californians have been doing an
reducing their indoor water use, helping the state survive
the most recent drought when water districts were required to
meet conservation targets. With more droughts inevitable,
Californians are likely to face even greater calls to save water
in the future.
Even as stakeholders in the Colorado River Basin celebrate the recent completion of an unprecedented drought plan intended to stave off a crashing Lake Mead, there is little time to rest. An even larger hurdle lies ahead as they prepare to hammer out the next set of rules that could vastly reshape the river’s future.
Set to expire in 2026, the current guidelines for water deliveries and shortage sharing, launched in 2007 amid a multiyear drought, were designed to prevent disputes that could provoke conflict.
One of California Gov. Gavin
Newsom’s first actions after taking office was to appoint Wade
Crowfoot as Natural Resources Agency secretary. Then, within
weeks, the governor laid out an ambitious water agenda that
Crowfoot, 45, is now charged with executing.
That agenda includes the governor’s desire for a “fresh approach”
on water, scaling back the conveyance plan in the Sacramento-San
Joaquin Delta and calling for more water recycling, expanded
floodplains in the Central Valley and more groundwater recharge.
Groundwater helped make Kern County
the king of California agricultural production, with a $7 billion
annual array of crops that help feed the nation. That success has
come at a price, however. Decades of unchecked groundwater
pumping in the county and elsewhere across the state have left
some aquifers severely depleted. Now, the county’s water managers
have less than a year left to devise a plan that manages and
protects groundwater for the long term, yet ensures that Kern
County’s economy can continue to thrive, even with less water.
Although Santa Monica may be the most aggressive Southern California water provider to wean itself from imported supplies, it is hardly the only one looking to remake its water portfolio.
In Los Angeles, a city of about 4 million people, efforts are underway to dramatically slash purchases of imported water while boosting the amount from recycling, stormwater capture, groundwater cleanup and conservation. Mayor Eric Garcetti in 2014 announced a plan to reduce the city’s purchase of imported water from Metropolitan Water District by one-half by 2025 and to provide one-half of the city’s supply from local sources by 2035. (The city considers its Eastern Sierra supplies as imported water.)
Imported water from the Sierra
Nevada and the Colorado River built Southern California. Yet as
drought, climate change and environmental concerns render those
supplies increasingly at risk, the Southland’s cities have ramped
up their efforts to rely more on local sources and less on
Far and away the most ambitious goal has been set by the city of
Santa Monica, which in 2014 embarked on a course to be virtually
water independent through local sources by 2023. In the 1990s,
Santa Monica was completely dependent on imported water. Now, it
derives more than 70 percent of its water locally.
In the universe of California water, Tim Quinn is a professor emeritus. Quinn has seen — and been a key player in — a lot of major California water issues since he began his water career 40 years ago as a young economist with the Rand Corporation, then later as deputy general manager with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, and finally as executive director of the Association of California Water Agencies. In December, the 66-year-old will retire from ACWA.
People in California and the
Southwest are getting stingier with water, a story that’s told by
For years, water use has generally been described in terms of
acre-foot per a certain number of households, keying off the
image of an acre-foot as a football field a foot deep in water.
The long-time rule of thumb: One acre-foot of water would supply
the indoor and outdoor needs of two typical urban households for
Amy Haas recently became the first non-engineer and the first woman to serve as executive director of the Upper Colorado River Commission in its 70-year history, putting her smack in the center of a host of daunting challenges facing the Upper Colorado River Basin.
Yet those challenges will be quite familiar to Haas, an attorney who for the past year has served as deputy director and general counsel of the commission. (She replaced longtime Executive Director Don Ostler). She has a long history of working within interstate Colorado River governance, including representing New Mexico as its Upper Colorado River commissioner and playing a central role in the negotiation of the recently signed U.S.-Mexico agreement known as Minute 323.
Nowhere is the domino effect in
Western water policy played out more than on the Colorado River,
and specifically when it involves the Lower Basin states of
California, Nevada and Arizona. We are seeing that play out now
as the three states strive to forge a Drought Contingency Plan.
Yet that plan can’t be finalized until Arizona finds a unifying
voice between its major water players, an effort you can read
more about in the latest in-depth article of Western Water.
Even then, there are some issues to resolve just within
It’s high-stakes time in Arizona. The state that depends on the
Colorado River to help supply its cities and farms — and is
first in line to absorb a shortage — is seeking a unified plan
for water supply management to join its Lower Basin neighbors,
California and Nevada, in a coordinated plan to preserve water
levels in Lake Mead before
they run too low.
If the lake’s elevation falls below 1,075 feet above sea level,
the secretary of the Interior would declare a shortage and
Arizona’s deliveries of Colorado River water would be reduced by
320,000 acre-feet. Arizona says that’s enough to serve about 1
million households in one year.
As California embarks on its unprecedented mission to harness groundwater pumping, the Arizona desert may provide one guide that local managers can look to as they seek to arrest years of overdraft.
Groundwater is stressed by a demand that often outpaces natural and artificial recharge. In California, awareness of groundwater’s importance resulted in the landmark Sustainable Groundwater Management Act in 2014 that aims to have the most severely depleted basins in a state of balance in about 20 years.
California voters may experience a sense of déjà vu this year when they are asked twice in the same year to consider water bonds — one in June, the other headed to the November ballot.
Both tackle a variety of water issues, from helping disadvantaged communities get clean drinking water to making flood management improvements. But they avoid more controversial proposals, such as new surface storage, and they propose to do some very different things to appeal to different constituencies.
The message is oft-repeated that
water must be conserved and used as wisely as possible.
The California Water Code calls water use efficiency “the
efficient management of water resources for beneficial uses,
preventing waste, or accomplishing additional benefits with the
same amount of water.”
From the Greek “xeros” and Middle Dutch “scap,”
xeriscape was coined
in 1978 and literally translates to “dry scene.”
Xeriscaping, by extension, is making an environment which can
tolerate dryness. This involves installing drought-resistant and
slow-growing plants to reduce water use.
Irrigation is the artificial supply
of water to grow crops or plants. Obtained from either surface or groundwater, it optimizes
agricultural production when the amount of rain and where it
falls is insufficient. Different irrigation
systems are not necessarily mutually exclusive, but in
practical use are often combined. Much of the agriculture in
California and the West relies on irrigation.
This card includes information about the Colorado River, who uses
the river, how the river’s water is divided and other pertinent
facts about this vital resource for the Southwest. Beautifully
illustrated with color photographs.
For over a century, the Klamath River Basin along the Oregon and
California border has faced complex water management disputes. As
relayed in this 2012, 60-minute public television documentary
narrated by actress Frances Fisher, the water interests range
from the Tribes near the river, to energy producer PacifiCorp,
farmers, municipalities, commercial fishermen, environmentalists
– all bearing legitimate arguments for how to manage the water.
After years of fighting, a groundbreaking compromise may soon
settle the battles with two epic agreements that hold the promise
of peace and fish for the watershed. View an excerpt from the
This 30-minute documentary-style DVD on the history and current
state of the San Joaquin River Restoration Program includes an
overview of the geography and history of the river, historical
and current water delivery and uses, the genesis and timeline of
the 1988 lawsuit, how the settlement was reached and what was
This 25-minute documentary-style DVD, developed in partnership
with the California Department of Water Resources, provides an
excellent overview of climate change and how it is already
affecting California. The DVD also explains what scientists
anticipate in the future related to sea level rise and
precipitation/runoff changes and explores the efforts that are
underway to plan and adapt to climate.
Many Californians don’t realize that when they turn on the
faucet, the water that flows out could come from a source close
to home or one hundreds of miles away. Most people take their
water for granted; not thinking about the elaborate systems and
testing that go into delivering clean, plentiful water to
households throughout the state. Where drinking water comes from,
how it’s treated, and what people can do to protect its quality
are highlighted in this 2007 PBS documentary narrated by actress
A 30-minute version of the 2007 PBS documentary Drinking Water:
Quenching the Public Thirst. This DVD is ideal for showing at
community forums and speaking engagements to help the public
understand the complex issues surrounding the elaborate systems
and testing that go into delivering clean, plentiful water to
households throughout the state.
Water truly has shaped California into the great state it is
today. And if it is water that made California great, it’s the
fight over – and with – water that also makes it so critically
important. In efforts to remap California’s circulatory system,
there have been some critical events that had a profound impact
on California’s water history. These turning points not only
forced a re-evaluation of water, but continue to impact the lives
of every Californian. This 2005 PBS documentary offers a
historical and current look at the major water issues that shaped
the state we know today. Includes a 12-page viewer’s guide with
background information, historic timeline and a teacher’s lesson.
A companion to the Truckee River Basin Map poster, this 24×36
inch poster, suitable for framing, explores the Carson River, and
its link to the Truckee River. The map includes Lahontan Dam and
Reservoir, the Carson Sink, and the farming areas in the basin.
Map text discusses the region’s hydrology and geography, the
Newlands Project, land and water use within the basin and
wetlands. Development of the map was funded by a grant from the
U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Mid-Pacific Region, Lahontan Basin
This 24×36 inch poster, suitable for framing, illustrates the
water resources available for Nevada cities, agriculture and the
environment. It features natural and manmade water resources
throughout the state, including the Truckee and Carson rivers,
Lake Tahoe, Pyramid Lake and the course of the Colorado River
that forms the state’s eastern boundary.
Water as a renewable resource is depicted in this 18×24 inch
poster. Water is renewed again and again by the natural
hydrologic cycle where water evaporates, transpires from plants,
rises to form clouds, and returns to the earth as precipitation.
Excellent for elementary school classroom use.
The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to Integrated Regional Water
Management (IRWM) is an in-depth, easy-to-understand publication
that provides background information on the principles of IRWM,
its funding history and how it differs from the traditional water
Water conservation has become a way of life throughout the West
with a growing recognition that the supply of water is not
Drought is the most common motivator of increased water
conservation but the gradual drying of the West as a result of
climate change means the amount of fresh water available for
drinking, irrigation, industry and other uses must be used as
efficiently as possible.
This printed issue of Western Water features a
roundtable discussion with Anthony Saracino, a water resources
consultant; Martha Davis, executive manager of policy development
with the Inland Empire Utilities Agency and senior policy advisor
to the Delta Stewardship Council; Stuart Leavenworth, editorial
page editor of The Sacramento Bee and Ellen Hanak, co-director of
research and senior fellow at the Public Policy Institute of
This printed issue of Western Water examines the
financing of water infrastructure, both at the local level and
from the statewide perspective, and some of the factors that
influence how people receive their water, the price they pay for
it and how much they might have to pay in the future.
This printed copy of Western Water examines California’s drought
– its impact on water users in the urban and agricultural sector
and the steps being taken to prepare for another dry year should
Perhaps no other issue has rocketed to prominence in such a short
time as climate change. A decade ago, discussion about greenhouse
gas (GHG) emissions and the connection to warming temperatures
was but a fraction of the attention now given to the issue. From
the United Nations to local communities, people are talking about
climate change – its characteristics and what steps need to be
taken to mitigate and adapt to the anticipated impacts.
This issue of Western Water examines the continuing practice of
smart water use in the urban sector and its many facets, from
improved consumer appliances to improved agency planning to the
improvements in water recycling and desalination. Many in the
water community say conserving water is not merely a response to
drought conditions, but a permanent ethic in an era in which
every drop of water is a valuable commodity not to be wasted.
Drawn from a special stakeholder symposium held in September 1999
in Keystone, Colorado, this issue explores how we got to where we
are today on the Colorado River; an era in which the traditional
water development of the past has given way to a more
collaborative approach that tries to protect the environment
while stretching available water supplies.
This issue updates progress on crafting and implementing
California’s 4.4 plan to reduce its use of Colorado River water
by 800,000 acre-feet. The state has used as much as 5.2 million
acre-feet of Colorado River water annually, but under pressure
from Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt and the other six states
that share this resource, California’s Colorado River parties
have been trying to close the gap between demand and supply.