The seven-state drought contingency plan seeks to keep two Colorado River reservoirs from dropping so low they cannot deliver water or produce hydropower.
U.S. Bureau of Reclamation
Scientists are studying how much water is lost to evaporation at the nation's two largest reservoirs. There's no stopping it, but more accurate measurements could lead to better water budgeting on the Colorado River.
One good year of snowpack won't reduce long-term risks on the river.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has given governors or their representatives in the seven states until March 19 to recommend the next steps after California and Arizona failed to meet its deadlines.
The Imperial Irrigation District is the largest single recipient of Colorado River water, with 3.1 million-acre feet of California’s 4.4 million-acre entitlement under legal compacts stretching back nearly a century.
The drought plan requires Arizona to find a way to reduce its use of Colorado River water by up to 700,000 acre-feet — more than twice Nevada's yearly allocation under the drought plan.
The other six states in the Colorado River basin have agreed to plans that recognize a long-running drought, the dwindling supply of water and how they intend to cope with it.
A deal was supposed to be signed by the end of 2018, under threat that the water levels on the river would push the federal government to impose its own restrictions.
Colorado River water supports about 40 million people and millions of acres of farmland in the U.S. and Mexico.