Colorado collaborates with Colorado River Basin States to analyze potential solutions to protect the Colorado River System

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May 22, 2023 (Denver, CO) - The seven Colorado River Basin States have agreed that a proposal developed by the Lower Division States–to conserve at least 3 million acre-feet of water by 2026–should be transmitted to the Secretary of Interior and the Bureau of Reclamation for further analysis as part of the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement process (SEIS). In a letter sent to the Bureau of Reclamation on May 22, 2023, the Basin States requested Reclamation further analyze the Lower Basin proposal, and urged Reclamation to immediately turn to planning for longer-term operations at Lake Powell and Lake Mead.

The Upper Colorado River Commission and the Upper Division States of Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming remain committed to finding collaborative solutions within the means of the River. While the Upper Division States have not had an opportunity to review and analyze the Lower Basin proposal in detail, and therefore cannot endorse the proposal at this time, the UCRC Commissioners look forward to better understanding whether it can provide meaningful and enforceable reductions in use to address near-term challenges facing the Colorado River System. Commissioner Mitchell and her staff will continue to analyze the proposal in the coming weeks to understand impacts on the System and, specifically, Colorado’s significant interests in the Colorado River. Any viable proposal must show measurable and binding reductions in use.

Colorado joined the other Basin States in requesting that the Bureau of Reclamation immediately turn to the longer-term planning process, often called the Post-2026 Negotiations. The negotiation of operating guidelines can provide long-term, sustainable solutions that operate within the means of the River. Colorado is committed to Basin-wide collaboration to develop a consensus alternative for post-2026 operations.  

“The wet winter has given us a bit of space to negotiate, but we must not squander this gift from mother nature. We look forward to better understanding what enforceable, binding water conservation agreements the Lower Division States may be able to provide. While temporary solutions are beneficial, we must continue to focus on the long-term goal of sustaining the system. We will analyze everything through the lens of how to best protect the 40 million people, 7 U.S. States, 2 countries, and 30 Tribal Nations that rely on this critical resource,” said Colorado’s Commissioner Becky Mitchell.

To read FAQs, see Mitchell's Commissioner's Corner.