Commissioner Mitchell Reaffirms Commitment to Tribes for Colorado River Matters

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The 2021 Colorado River Water Users Association (CRWUA) Annual Conference kicked off on December 14 in Las Vegas, Nevada, gathering water leaders and stakeholders from across the Colorado River Basin. During the Upper Colorado River Commission meeting, Colorado Commissioner Rebecca Mitchell reaffirmed the state’s commitment to create a framework for meaningful and effective engagement with the Southern Ute and Ute Mountain Ute Tribes throughout the negotiation process for post-2026 reservoir operations of Lake Powell and Lake Mead (see Interim Guidelines background). Commissioner Mitchell announced that she will begin implementing the framework in Spring 2022.

Statement from Commissioner Mitchell on Tribal Engagement:

In recognition of their status as fellow sovereigns, I believe that a critical element as we move into negotiations for post-2026 reservoir operations interim guidelines is meaningful engagement with the Tribal Nations in the Colorado River Basin, and that creating a framework for this engagement should be the first step as the negotiations begin.”

Commissioner Mitchell Statement on Upper Basin Shortages and the Need for Fair, Sustainable Solutions: 

As our water users in the Upper Basin states have faced shortages every single year for more than 20 years and have used roughly three million acre-feet less than their compact apportionment every year, the Lower Basin states have benefitted from certainty and security in their water deliveries due to large releases from Lake Powell.”
It is incumbent on all who rely on the Colorado River to take a hard look at potential solutions and consider whether those solutions address the root causes of problems that we face in the Colorado River Basin. Colorado looks forward to working collaboratively with all Basin states, Tribal Nations, water users, and NGOs towards developing and implementing fair, effective, and sustainable future actions to manage the Colorado River in the coming months and years.”

While facing significant shortages, the Upper Basin states are implementing the 2019 Drought Contingency Plan. This has included the release of over 150,000 acre-feet of water from Upper Basin reservoirs in an effort to protect Lake Powell. A Drought Response Operations Plan will be released for public comment in early 2022.

Upper Colorado River Basin states include Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. Lower Colorado River Basin states include Arizona, California, and Nevada. Rebecca Mitchell serves as the Governor-appointed Commissioner representing Colorado on all Colorado River matters, as well as the Director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board.

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