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Feds call for public input on how to manage the stressful Colorado River

Powell Lake is a major water storage facility and hydroelectric source in the west. The reservoir is at 3,539 feet.

Decades Drought And Overuse Put it The Colorado River, And its millions of users, in critical condition. The Bureau of Reclamation announced Thursday that it is looking for public input on how to manage the resource, and some Utah officials are not too happy about it.

Seven basin states, Mexico and tribal nations are renegotiating how to manage the river in the long run, the current set of rules Expires in 2026. As the system’s largest reservoirs reach critically low levels, they are looking at how it will go in the coming months. Lake Powell and Lake Mead Both are about 28% full.

In A Colorado River Authority of Utah At Thursday’s meeting, Brian Steed, the state’s executive director of natural resources, said Reclamation’s call for public input worries him.

“This is not for states to decide and propose and to direct and devise to the Feds,” he said. “It worries me that this is going to go the other way with the Feds framing it.”

The public input period is until September 1st. Reclamation officials said in the announcement that they were looking to formally launch. National Environmental Policy Act Process in early 2023, which will help determine the post-2026 guidelines.

“We would like to hear from everyone who has a stake in this watershed. We rely on the best science available, to develop our next operating rules in an inclusive, transparent manner,” Carly Gerla, senior water resources program manager, said in the announcement.

It could open a “Pandora’s box,” and reduce the sound of watershed states, Steed said.

In the short term, federal officials have Calling for basin states To commit to unprecedented water conservation measures. “Between 2 and 4 million acre-feet is needed to protect critical levels in 2023,” said Recovery Commissioner Camille Calimlim Touton. KUNC reported. The watershed states have a 60-day agreement before the federal government steps in.

He said the “essence of the problem” is not reducing water use in the lower basin states Gene ShawcroftColorado River Commissioner for Utah.

“Now I am [can’t] Tell the upper states that they will not suffer a little bit, it will happen, ”he said. “But regardless of the pain we feel, we cannot solve the problem. Problems must be addressed in the lower divisional states.

The Lower Basin states – Arizona, Nevada and California – use large cities and high flow of the river for irrigation. There are some upper watersheds – Utah, Colorado, Wyoming and New Mexico – Keep an eye on even bigger water development projectsThey are saying they have used their share less for years.

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