WASHINGTON – On Thursday, Jan. 31, Arizona lawmakers passed the historic Colorado River 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 protect against catastrophic water shortages in Lake Mead and declining river flows across the Colorado River Basin. Maite Arce, President and CEO of Hispanic Access Foundation, released the following statement applauding the actions taken by Arizona lawmakers to join the six other states that have approved the plan:
“With climate change contributing to rising temperatures and drier climates in the West, aridification and drought are becoming chronic conditions that we must plan and prepare for in order to protect water supplies for our communities and future generations. Water managers are no longer awaiting precipitation but instead they are looking for ways to reduce demand. The goal of the Drought Contingency Plan is to prevent even deeper cutbacks in the future and establish an ongoing collaborative process to protect river levels across the Colorado River Basin and ensure the water elevation in Lake Mead does not fall to a critically low level, at which point Arizona will experience harmful shortages.
“Leaders in Arizona and across the basin worked hard to build consensus for these plans. We applaud Arizona lawmakers for approving the Drought Contingency Plan, as it is a critical step for a more sustainable future. Protecting the river and the water it provides will require our communities and decision-makers to develop resilient solutions that reduce water consumption and efficiently share the river’s waters. We all have a moral obligation to protect our water resources for future generations and we must work together to implement these plans.
“The Colorado River system is one of the hardest working rivers in the country. It supplies drinking water to seven states from its source in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park to Arizona where it passes into Mexico. In the Lower Colorado River Basin, which includes Arizona, the water helps irrigate millions of acres of farmland. All in all, the river is the life source for more than 36 million people, including nearly a third of the nation’s Latinos. The Colorado River is our lifeline in the arid West – it’s time to treat it like our lives and livelihoods depend on it.”
The widely regarded Colorado College’s 2019 Conservation in the West poll found that 82 percent of Arizona’s voters believe that it is important for states to use funds to protect and restore the health of rivers, lakes and streams. In addition, 87 percent of Arizonans and 73 percent of Latino voters in the West viewed the low levels of water in rivers as a serious problem.