Utah senators endorse river drought pact

The Colorado Plateau as viewed from space.
Photo courtesy of NASA/Wikimedia Commons

U.S. Senators Mitt Romney and Mike Lee, both Republicans from Utah, Tuesday joined their colleagues in introducing the Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan Authorization Act, which would ensure the wide-reaching Drought Contingency Plan forged among the seven Colorado River Basin states and Indian tribes can be implemented without delay.

The legislation is co-sponsored by all 14 senators from the Colorado River Basin which include: U.S. Senators Martha McSally (R-AZ), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Mike Enzi (R-WY), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Tom Udall (D-NM), and John Barrasso (R-WY).

“For the last nineteen years, my home state of Utah has been in a severe drought, with Lake Powell currently at dangerously low levels,” Senator Romney said. “The Colorado River is critical to the survival, livelihood, and recreation of Utahns, and we must do everything we can to sustain it. By implementing drought contingency plans for the Colorado River Basin, this bill is an important step toward managing Utah’s waters and the communities that depend on them.”

Said Senator Lee, “I’d like to commend the many individuals from all the states involved for their hard work. The Colorado River is managed under a complicated set of compacts, statutes, court decisions, and other agreements; given these constraints, negotiating a compromise among all the stakeholders is quite the accomplishment.”

Senator McSally said, “The Drought Contingency Plan is a landmark grassroots effort that is a state-driven solution to ensure that we continue to provide drinking water to 40 million Americans, irrigation for 5.5 million acres of farmland, and more than 4,000 megawatts of carbon-free hydropower to communities across the West. Congratulations to all the states for their hard work. I am honored to lead this bipartisan DCP legislation and will work to get it urgently signed into law. ”

Senator Sinema said, “I’m proud to have worked with local stakeholders and senate colleagues to keep the Drought Contingency Plan on track and ensure Congressional leaders know how important the agreement is to Arizona,” “I’ll keep working across the aisle to pass our legislation and help secure Arizona’s water future.”

Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Lisa Murkowski said, “I applaud Senator McSally and the entire Colorado River Basin delegation for introducing this bill, which is vitally important to the water security of 40 million people out West. My colleagues on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee have kept me informed about the urgency and progress of this effort over the last few years, and we now look forward to moving it quickly into law so the basin states can begin saving water and protecting Lakes Mead and Powell this year.”

Senator Cortez Masto said, “I applaud the Colorado River Basin States for coming together to address the ongoing threat of drought to our states’ economy, public safety, and the daily lives of millions. I look forward to working together with my colleagues to pass this bipartisan legislation that protects the Colorado River, should a shortage be declared, and supports and protects our urban areas, agricultural and grazing lands, and recreational as well as tourism economies. I’ll do all I can in the senate to collaborate with my western state colleagues to protect Lake Mead, the Colorado River, and the water resources of those who live in Nevada and across the West.”

Senator Rosen added, “Water is one of our most precious resources­–especially for western states like Nevada. This legislation will codify this agreement, allowing all of the Colorado River Basin states to continue to have access to water for future generations.”

Senator Enzi remarked, “Conserving water in the Colorado River is important for Wyoming and for many states in the West. I am glad the states worked together in developing this plan to help protect those who rely on the Colorado River Basin and ensure there is sufficient water for years to come.”

Senator Gardner remarked, “40 million people in the western United States depend on the health of the Colorado River to provide water for agricultural, municipal, and consumptive use. The river also supports a growing recreation economy. However, in the face of long-term drought, the basin states have come together to create coordinated plans that should aid efforts to prevent severe water shortages in the west and stabilize water storage levels at Lake Mead and Lake Powell.