Energy & Environment

Arizona Democrat says California ‘failing to do its part’ on Colorado River crisis

Rep. Greg Stanton (D-Ariz.)
Greg Nash

Rep. Greg Stanton (D-Ariz.) called plans by California officials to use more than the state’s full allocation of water from Lake Mead in 2022 “reckless and unacceptable” in a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) on Tuesday. 

In the letter, Stanton expressed concerns that California is “failing to do its part” relative to other states in the Colorado River Basin. He noted that while the federal Bureau of Reclamation has said basin states must increase their water conservation by 2 million to 4 million acre-feet, the Golden State has declined proposals from Arizona and Nevada officials that would have saved a further 2 million acre-feet. 

Stanton went on to castigate California officials for increasing use of Colorado River water 41 percent in April compared to the same month in 2020 as well as for plans to use the state’s entire 2022 allocation and make further withdrawals from Lake Mead beyond the allocation. 

“In a time of historic drought, this is reckless and unacceptable,” Stanton wrote. “Saving the Colorado River system requires such significant water reductions that the cuts necessary cannot possibly be borne by one or two states alone — it will take shared sacrifice among us all. It’s time for all states, including California, to do their part.” 

The Colorado River serves New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming, Arizona, California, Nevada and parts of Mexico, with allocation based on a century-old agreement based on substantially higher levels than the current level.

In August, the federal government announced cuts to the yearly water allocations to Arizona and Nevada but no cut to California, the third state in the river’s lower basin. Under the terms of the cuts, the Bureau of Reclamation will withhold 21 percent of Arizona’s annual allocation and 8 percent of Nevada’s in 2023. 

The Hill has reached out to Newsom’s office for comment.  

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