Biden-Harris’ new measures to safeguard the Colorado River, addressing drought & climate crisis impacts, with a focus on the Glen Canyon and Hoover Dams.
The Biden-Harris administration unveiled the next phase of its strategy to fortify the Colorado River System's stability and boost water security in the West, marking an essential stride in the face of an enduring drought and the escalating climate crisis.
The Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation has circulated a revised draft of the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS), aiming to refresh the present interim operational rules for Glen Canyon and Hoover Dams.
Two notable updates characterize today’s revised SEIS: it integrates the Lower Basin states’ proposal and also incorporates updated hydrological data. This unveiling ushers in a 45-day window for public comments.
Deputy Secretary Tommy Beaudreau, a leading figure in the negotiations, commented, “Throughout the past year, our partners in the seven Basin states have shown leadership in ensuring the water conservation required to sustain the Colorado River System till 2026. Their dedication, combined with the unprecedented funding from the 'Investing in America' initiative, has helped prevent a critical decline in the System’s reservoir levels."
Reclamation Commissioner Camille Calimlim Touton added, “The reservoirs, especially Lake Powell and Lake Mead, are at alarmingly low levels. While we are making progress, we need sustainable strategies for the long run in light of the challenges posed by climate change."
Echoing the sentiment, White House National Climate Advisor Ali Zaidi said, "Earlier this year, President Biden brokered a landmark agreement among the seven Colorado River Basin states. Today, with the 'Investing in America' agenda backing us, we take another decisive step towards a more resilient and sustainable West."
The recent SEIS underwent updated modeling, suggesting a significant reduction in the risk of critical water levels at Lake Powell and Lake Mead. As per this analysis, through 2026, the probability of Lake Powell and Lake Mead plummeting to critical lows stands at eight percent and four percent, respectively.
However, such low reservoir levels emphasize the dire need for conservation measures, like those proposed by the Lower Division, to guarantee water supply to communities and uphold the long-term viability of the Colorado River System.
President Biden’s "Investing in America" program is pivotal to ramping up water conservation and ensuring the Colorado River System’s reservoirs don't reach dangerously low levels. Part of this initiative includes conservation agreements in Arizona, with efforts to conserve water in Lake Mead and a budget of $4.6 billion to tackle the historic drought spanning the West.
Furthermore, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is setting aside $8.3 billion over half a decade for water infrastructure projects. The Interior Department has also declared numerous investments, aiming for substantial water savings annually.
This revelation stands distinct from the recent announcements for the Colorado River Basin's protection post-2026. The current revised draft SEIS will guide Reclamation's initiatives up to the close of 2026, while the guidelines for post-2026 were discussed last week.
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