How Colorado Stands To Gain From Historic Water Deal With Mexico

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Photo: Colorado River from space
A picture of nearly the full length of Lake Powell, the reservoir on the Colorado River in Southern Utah and Northern Arizona, photographed by an astronaut aboard the International Space Station. Note that the ISS was north of the lake at the time, so in this view south is at the top left of the image.

Mexico will do more to conserve water from the Colorado River, which will give Colorado and other U.S. states in the river basin more flexibility. This is because of an agreement signed last week in Santa Fe. Water scholar John Fleck was present, and he tells Colorado Matters the agreement could help avoid a crisis in Lake Mead, a giant reservoir that has dropped precipitously in the last several years. If Lake Mead drops below a certain level, water use reductions would be mandated for California, Arizona and Nevada.

Under the agreement, which extends a 2012 deal, the U.S. will help pay for conservation research in Mexico, to reduce the country's usage, particularly in agriculture. And, in the event that Lake Mead does drop below prescribed levels, Mexico will share in the mandatory cutbacks.

Fleck leads the Water Resources Program at the University of New Mexico and wrote, "Water Is For Fighting Over: And Other Myths About Water In The West."