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Jeff Jensen
Southwest regional representative

Prior to joining the GCSAA staff, Jeff spent more than a decade in the golf industry in management and marketing. He resides in Henderson, Nev.
Tel. 800-472-7878, ext. 3603.

Field staff report

Three Colorado River Lower Basin states reach potential deal with Biden Administration

by Jeff Jensen | May 30, 2023

Agreement between Arizona, California and Nevada would voluntarily reduce 3 million acre-feet

The three Colorado River Lower Basin states reached a potential deal with the Biden Administration on May 22 that will voluntarily reduce 3 million acre-feet of water on the depleted river through 2026. 

The voluntary agreement between Arizona, California and Nevada would replace the alternative scenarios that were presented by the Department of the Interior in April and which the states were required to issue comments on by May 30.  The new proposal suspends that comment period and will kick in a federal environmental review process on the proposal submitted by the states. 

The new agreement amounts to 13 percent of the three states total Colorado River Allocation.  To assist with the cutbacks, the Biden Administration will compensate the states for three-quarters of the water savings (approximately 2.3 million acre-feet) which amounts to nearly $1.2 billion.  The funds will come from the Biden Inflation Relief Act and would pay farmers and others to forgo their water use on the Colorado as well as assist with the funding of numerous water conservation projects. 

The majority of the cuts (1.5 million acre-feet) will come in 2024 and California will voluntarily cut 1.6 million acre-feet over the three-year period.  Arizona will contribute 1.1 million acre-feet with Nevada contributing 285,000 acre-feet.  California has the largest allotment of river water at 4.4 million acre-feet.  Nevada’s share would be uncompensated by the federal government in return for the possibility of reattaining some of those water cuts post 2027. 

The deal would still give the federal government authority to make mandatory cuts if the levels at Lake Mead and Lake Powell fall below 1,000 and 3,500 feet respectively.  The states feel that the joint agreement results in better protections for the lakes than the federal government proposal. 

The federal government will still move forward with the plan for new Colorado River guidelines that will replace the current 2007 interim guidelines that expire at the end of 2026. 

How the states will divide the 3 million acre-feet of cuts between agriculture, cities, industry, and tribal nations is still unknown at this time.  Over 40 million people, 7 states and 30 tribal nations rely on Colorado River Basin. 

More information on those cuts as well as the effects on the golf industry will be provided when available.   

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Southwest2017This region includes Arizona, California, Hawaii and Nevada.