Metropolitan Water and Imperial Irrigation Districts settle Colorado River dispute

California agencies agree to Colorado water conservation deal

Several California water agencies signed agreements Wednesday to conserve a combined 643,000 acre-feet of water in Lake Mead through 2025. In exchange, the Biden Administration has agreed to invest approximately $295 million in new projects for water conservation, water efficiency, and protection of critical environmental resources in the Colorado River System.

Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Camille Calimlim Touton joined federal, Tribal and state leaders in Nevada Wednesday to announce the execution of new water conservation agreements, including an agreement with the Coachella Valley Water District to save up to 105,000 acre-feet of water and an agreement with the Quechan Indian Tribe to save up to 39,000 acre-feet through 2025. The event also commemorated a recently signed agreement with the Imperial Irrigation District to conserve approximately 100,000 acre-feet of water in 2023. The leaders also announced that additional system conservation agreements with the Palo Verde Irrigation District, Bard Water District – in cooperation with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California – and a second agreement with the Coachella Valley Water District are expected to be finalized in the coming weeks.

“These agreements represent another critical step in our collective efforts to address the water management challenges the Colorado River Basin faces due to drought and climate change,” said Reclamation Commissioner Camille Calimlim Touton. “Addressing the drought crisis requires an all-hands-on-deck approach, and close collaboration among federal, state, Tribal and local communities. When we work together, we can find solutions to meet the challenges of these unprecedented drought conditions.”

To date, the Department has announced the following investments for Colorado River Basin states through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act, which will yield hundreds of thousands of acre-feet of water savings each year once these projects are complete:

  • $281 million for 21 water recycling projects that are expected to increase annual water capacity by 127,000 acre-feet annually;
  • Up to $233 million in water conservation funding for the Gila River Indian Community, including $83 million for a water pipeline project;
  • Over $73 million for infrastructure repairs on water delivery systems; $19.3 million in fiscal year 2022and another $54 million announced in April 2023;
  • $71 million for 32 drought resiliency projects to expand access to water through groundwater storage, rainwater harvesting, aquifer recharge and water treatment;
  • $50 million over the next five years to improve key water infrastructure and enhance drought-related data collection across the Upper Colorado River Basin; and
  • $20 million in new small surface and groundwater storage.

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