NPR Story
11:48 am
Wed May 29, 2013

Colorado River Stakeholders Call For Action

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — As Lakes Mead and Powell reach record low capacities, and demand exceeds supply, water agency officials are calling for action.

Representatives from the federal government, environmental groups, tribes and western states are discussing how to make the Colorado River last as long as possible. They’re using the findings from a 2012 study as their catalyst.

They have formed three work groups to study municipal conservation and reuse, agricultural conservation and transfers and flows for a healthy environment.

The groups will then make recommendations in a year.

Jennifer Pitt with the Environmental Defense Fund said they don’t need more studies.

"We lose on an opportunity to build on the momentum that we’ve seen coming out of the Basin Study if we don’t seize the moment," Pitt said.

Pitt pointed to the water solutions already identified in the Colorado River Basin Water Supply and Demand Study. She said there are more than 4 million acre feet of water solutions faster, safer and less expensive to implement than some of the alternatives such as pipelines that would rely on other regions for water.

Sandra Fabritz-Whitney is the director of the Arizona Department of Water Resources and spoke on behalf of the lower basin states. She says they don’t want to act too quickly.

"We have to have the appropriate actions to address the appropriate problems," Fabritz-Whitney said. "We don’t want to rush too quickly and have the wrong actions and not solve the problems."

Federal officials said this will likely be a 10-year process.

The Colorado River provides water for more than 30 million people, irrigation for four million acres of land and hydropower for a large portion of the southwest.

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