Dispute Strains Relations Between Colorado River Management Bodies

Dispute Strains Relations Between Colorado River Management Bodies

While the Colorado River is under stress due to increasing demand for water and decreasing flows, a dispute over how to manage its waters is straining relations between state management bodies.

Most recently, the largest water supplier in Arizona — the Central Arizona Project (CAP) — backpedaled and revised its position on how best to manage the overburdened waterway after coming under fire for taking an aggressive stance.

The CAP had previously stated its goal keep water levels high enough in Lake Mead to maintain its fair share of water, but low enough to require other management bodies to put more water into the river.

Officials in surrounding states like New Mexico, Colorado, Utah and Wyoming accused CAP of gaming the system to benefit its own residents while leaving the rest of the system at risk.

A meeting between water managers in the five states took place to discuss CAP’s practices with Lake Mead. While the meeting didn’t resolve the actual problem, CAP officials offered a written statement saying they regretted “their use of rhetoric in describing the policy of maximizing reservoir releases solely for the benefit of the (Central Arizona Water Conservancy) District at the expense of the rest of the Colorado River Basin.”

Meanwhile, the Colorado River is amidst an 18-year drought that some researchers claim could represent a more permanent condition for the river.


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