Metropolitan Water District of Southern California issues the following statements on the submission of a consensus Lower Basin Plan to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation as an action alternative under the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for revised interim operation of the Colorado River through 2026:
General Manager Adel Hagekhalil:
“The consensus alternative agreed to with our partners across the Lower Basin will produce exactly the short-term stability to the Colorado River system we need. Through federal funding from the Inflation Reduction Act and additional non-compensated contributions by the Lower Basin states, and thanks to this year’s wet winter, the near-term risks facing lakes Mead and Powell will be avoided. We are grateful Reclamation has agreed to analyze this consensus plan, and we are hopeful it will emerge as the preferred alternative.
“This plan calls for all Colorado River water users to share in the effort to use less water. In Southern California, that means we will continue to need businesses and residents to be as efficient as possible with their water use. The recent wet winter across California and the Southwest certainly provided a much-needed lifeline, but it didn’t absolve us from the responsibility of addressing the changing climate and long-term drought that are permanently reducing the amount of water in the Colorado River. We must all do more to use less.
“The consensus plan announced today is a major step in the right direction. But once the agreements are finalized, we must turn our attention to the much greater challenge ahead: developing long-term, post-2026 solutions to the imbalance on the river. Only by working together through collaboration and negotiation were we able to develop today’s short-term solutions that will immediately leave water in lakes Mead and Powell and avoid lengthy legal battles. We must continue that collaborative and cooperative approach as we begin the critical work ahead.”
Director Gloria Cordero, Colorado River Board of California board member representing Metropolitan Water District:
“We appreciate the collaboration of our partners across California and throughout the Colorado River Basin. Only through collaboration can we move forward to solve the challenges facing the river.”
Director Marty Miller, Chair of the Metropolitan Board’s Ad Hoc Committee on Colorado River:
“This consensus agreement will lessen the risk of litigation which would only stall and inevitably hurt the River.”