WASHINGTON – In October 2018, after years of fitful effort, state agencies and water providers agreed on a draft Drought Contingency Plan (DCP) — an agreement between California, Arizona and Nevada in the Lower Basin, and Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming in the Upper Basin — to reduce each state’s river use as a way to deal with shortages in the water supply provided by the Colorado River. With a federal deadline of Jan. 31 for the participating states to forge a collaborative DCP, Maite Arce, President and CEO of Hispanic Access Foundation, released the following statement encouraging Arizona lawmakers to take action and join the six other states approving the plan:
“With drought as a chronic condition and a never-ending demand for water, the Colorado River seems to continually face an epic low point. The goal of the Drought Contingency Plan is to prevent even deeper cutbacks in the future supply available to the river states and set up a future of more sustainable water use in the Colorado River Basin. This will help avoid a situation where the reservoir levels in both the Upper Basin and Lower Basin drop to elevations that can cause even more conflicts. With ongoing collaboration and renewed commitment, states will be able to safeguard the future of the lives and livelihoods that depend on the Colorado River.
“We absolutely need to engage diverse voices to maximize the success of any water policies and we certainly need Arizona lawmakers to act with urgency in light of the inevitable water shortages and the upcoming federal deadline for the seven states to agree on a collaborative Drought Contingency Plan.
“The Drought Contingency Plan is a critical first step, but won’t solve this issue alone. We all have a moral obligation to protect our waters. We should not wait until we are at a point of failure before we act. We must work together to finalize and implement these plans so that we can address these changes head on, and in doing so protect the communities, economies, and wildlife that rely on the Colorado River. Protecting the river and the water it provides will require us to develop resilient solutions that reduce water consumption and efficiently share the river’s waters.”
The widely regarded Colorado College’s 2018 Conservation in the West poll found that 84 percent of Arizona’s voters believe that risks to our water supply are a serious problem. In addition, 78 percent of Arizonans favor using the current water supply more wisely, by encouraging more water conservation, reducing use and increasing recycling of water instead of simply diverting more waters from rivers to address demand.