Colorado joins five other Colorado River Basin states in conservation plan

A pair of fly fishermen work the Colorado River in Byers Canyon west of Hot Sulphur Springs in 2017. Town residents are passionate about preserving the area's natural spaces and wildlife.
Lance Maggart/Sky-Hi News file photo

Six of the seven Colorado River Basin states agreed to a plan Monday, Jan. 30, to conserve water in the river and manage lakes Powell and Mead, a day before a federal deadline for the states to agree on voluntary water cuts passed. Politicians including Sen. Michael Bennet and Gov. Jared Polis applauded the six states’ collaboration.

The federal government had asked the states to agree on a plan to cut 2 million to 4 million acre-feet of water consumption, but with the deadline gone, the federal government may step in to enforce cuts.

The six-state plan would not reach the 2 million acre-feet threshold, focusing many of its cuts on lower basin states, despite not having the approval of California, a lower basin state and the river’s largest consumer.

A news release from Bennet’s office quoted him as saying the plan “did exactly what was needed” and expressing his disappointment in California not agreeing to the plan. California instead submitted its own plan to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation on Tuesday.

Polis said in a new release that Colorado will also continue to follow the Upper Colorado River Commission’s 5-Point Plan from July 2022, which was the upper basin’s original response to the Bureau of Reclamation’s calls for conservation in June 2022.

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