The announcement comes after over a year of disagreements and false starts as the states have negotiated how to distribute shares of the heavily overtapped water source.
Since the 1920s, use of the river has been governed by the Colorado River Compact, a document drafted during an unusually wet period for the basin. Since then, the states have struggled for years to develop a new agreement that reflects modern water levels.
The urgency of reaching a deal was compounded by the once-in-a-millennium drought that has hit the western U.S. since the early 20th century, pushing the Colorado River to a breaking point.
This winter was an unusually wet one in the region, but the water levels in Lakes Powell and Meade dipped low enough last summer to prompt concerns that the vast Colorado River reservoirs might hit “dead pool” status — or the point at which their water would be too low to flow downstream to their respective dams, threatening their capacity to generate power.
Read more in the full report this weekend.