Rep. Greg Stanton today announced he successfully secured $50 million for the Bureau of Reclamation to meet its obligations under the Drought Contingency Plan to help conserve water in Lake Mead and other Lower Basin reservoirs.
Stanton advocated for the funding in a hearing before the House Appropriations Committee in May, and today's announcement comes as the House Appropriations Committee advanced the FY2022 Energy and Water Development funding bill.
"The importance of a healthy Colorado River to the West cannot be overstated. Arizona's economy--from agriculture and recreation to our future growth--depends on a well-managed system," said Stanton. "These funds will go a long way to conserve water in Lake Mead."
In 2019, Stanton and Arizona's congressional delegation worked with local, state, and tribal leaders to pass the Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan through Congress. The agreement, developed by the seven Colorado River Basin States with the aim to safeguard water supplies through 2026, uses voluntary water reductions and reservoir management strategies to avoid historic lows in Colorado River reservoirs that would trigger dramatic water delivery cuts to Basin States. The plan directs the Secretary of the Interior to create or conserve 100,000 acre-feet per year or more of water in the system to contribute to the conservation of water in Lake Mead.
Nearly 40 percent of the water used in Phoenix comes from the river. Facing yet another dry year in a two decades-long drought, reservoirs used to store water have dropped to critically-low levels--with the potential to trigger the first-ever shortage declaration by the federal government and cuts in Arizona's water allocation. According to The Arizona Republic, "Lake Mead, the biggest reservoir on the river now stands at just 40% of its full capacity. This summer, it's projected to fall to the lowest levels since it was filled in the 1930s following the construction of Hoover Dam."
Since the plan was signed into law, Stanton has continued his push for federal investment in water storage infrastructure. Earlier this summer, Rep. Stanton and a bipartisan group of Western Members of Congress sent a letter to House leadership pushing for any final infrastructure package to include significant investments in water storage through the Bureau of Reclamation.