FEDS Announce Preferred Colorado River Plan

June 20, 2007

The Bureau of Reclamation announced on June 18, 2007, its preferred management option for the Colorado River basin during drought conditions. A summary of the plan was posted on BuRec's Web site a few days earlier, on June 15; Bob Walsh, 702-293-8421, or Barry Wirth,801-524-3774.

The region has been very dry for many years, and could remain so much longer, according to some predictions. To help address water shortfalls, in February 2007 BuRec released a draft environmental impact statement that evaluated five management options (including one no-action alternative), but in a departure from the usual procedure, the agency didn't identify its preferred option. After the February release, the agency gathered more public comment (released May 4, 2007), and that may have played a role in the development of the preferred option, which includes elements from each of the four action alternatives.

The preferred option will be evaluated in the final EIS that is scheduled to be released at the end of September 2007, and the final decision on a management plan is expected by December 2007. It will have direct implications for seven states in the watershed (AZ, CA, CO, NM, NV, UT, and WY). There may also be implications for other drought-plagued states that are looking for suitable strategies.