The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation warned states that share the Colorado River basin of dire consequences for failure to put in place a plan to save the dying river. Stakeholders were given until August 15 to come up with a strategic water usage plan that would help restore the dying river. However, the deadline arrived without any significant plan in the works.
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On Tuesday, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Chief Camille Touton said that the federal government has started taking steps to safeguard the river following a failure by the stakeholders. Surprisingly, she did not specify the kind of actions that the federal government will be taking to deal with the mess. Many expected that the bureau will already have a plan in place, but that has failed to materialize. At least, it was expected that the sake holders will be given a new strict deadline, but that did not happen either.
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“Today we’re starting the process and more information will follow as far as the actions we’ll take in that process,” said Touton on Tuesday. “I want to continue to push on the need for partnership in this space and the need for collaboration and finding a consensus solution. Not just for next year but for the future.”
While there are already planned water usage cuts for January, experts say that a big plan is needed to deal with the current crisis. In June, Touton directed that stakeholders come up with a plan to cut up to 25% of their usage to stabilize the river. This would translate to a cut of 4 million acre-feet per year. However, the plan in place to start January only targets cutting 721, 000 acre-feet of river usage.
The Interior Department has already announced a Tier 2 water shortage on the Colorado River, which means that more actions have to be taken to save it. Among the actions that could save the river include cutting water usage across the stakeholders.
According to Ted Cooke, general manager of the Central Arizona Project, it seems that the federal government is trying to persuade the states to come up with a plan. He says it would be better if the federal government got tougher.
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