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Arizona, California and Nevada to reduce water use in drought-stricken Colorado River

The seven states that depend on the Colorado River for electricity and drinking water have reached an agreement on the cuts to maintain the drought-stricken river’s flow.

Three states – Arizona, California and Nevada – have agreed on a plan to conserve at least 3 million acres of water by 2026 – roughly the equivalent of the amount of water it would take to fill 6 million Olympic swimming pools.

The Biden administration, which brokered the deal, announced the consensus deal Monday in a press release.

The seven states that rely on the Colorado River were on the brink of crisis after decades of overuse. Before a record winter of snowfall, the Lake Mead reservoir had become so drained that it was approaching — “dead pool” status — when flow would be cut off to lower regions because river levels were falling too low. to cross the dams.

About 40 million people depend on the Colorado River for drinking water. Utilities depend on it to generate electricity at the Lake Mead and Lake Powell dams and keep power going in several states.

The deal should avert short-term crisis and put states on a more sustainable path for water use, but it calls for less conservation than some scientists say is needed to stabilize the river after more than two decades of drought. The deal also prevents a difficult political situation for the Biden administration, which would have been forced to unilaterally implement cuts if the states could not negotiate a deal among themselves.

“Today’s announcement demonstrates the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to working with states, tribes and communities across the West to find consensus-based solutions to climate change and drought. persistent,” Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said.

As part of the agreement, the administration will use funding from the Inflation Reduction Act to compensate some farmers and other water users who temporarily accept reductions. The Biden administration has agreed to temporarily withdraw plans it crafted from dramatic cuts if state negotiations break down as it analyzes the states’ deal.

This is a developing story. Please check for updates.

nbcnews Gt

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