Southwest States Will Not Finalize Drought Plan Before Trump Administration Takes Over

By Will Stone
Published: Wednesday, December 28, 2016 - 11:37am
Updated: Thursday, December 29, 2016 - 10:52am
(KJZZ file photo)
The Colorado River through the Grand Canyon.

Southwest states will not reach a new agreement to avert major cutbacks in Colorado River water before the Trump administration takes over.

Even after months of negotiations, Arizona, California and Nevada will come up short of finalizing a deal on how to leave more water in the Lake Mead reservoir.

State water officials in concert with the federal government had hoped to nail down the new so-called "drought contingency plan" by the end of the year.

But the Director of the Arizona Department of Water Resources Tom Buschatzke said recently they won’t make that deadline. That’s because cities, tribes and farmers within the states still need to hash out who will take these new cuts and then get the feds to sign off.

“We know there will be a learning curve for the new administration this spring after they take office," Buschatzke said. "So we know there will be some time before we can finalize...probably several months.”

Recent estimates show about a 50 percent chance Southwest states will face a shortage declaration in 2018. The proposed plan would force Arizona to forego some of its share now to avoid even greater cutbacks later.

The state legislature will also need to okay the deal before it takes effect.

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