Recently the Bureau of Reclamation which oversees the Lake Powell and the other reservoirs within the Colorado River Basin hosted two public meetings to inform the public of future plans to address the current situation along the Colorado River. The BOR announced they expect the NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) process to being early of 2023. The meetings that were held were simply to announce to the public that this process would be starting and to begin brainstorming possible solutions and information that the Bureau needs to be aware of. You can read the full press release the Bureau released announcing the meetings and the project.
Camille Touton recently became the Commissioner of Bureau of Reclamation and she shared the following thoughts in a recent hearing before Congress, “In my testimony last week, I stressed the need for a quick response and action from across the basin to reduce water use and protect the sustainability of the Colorado River system. As we focus on these short-term response actions, we also clearly recognize the importance of simultaneously planning for the longer-term to stabilize our reservoirs before we face an even larger crisis.”
BlueRibbon sees this opportunity as a huge win to finally have a place at the table as long term policy solutions will be discussed and considered. In 2026 several resources will expire that currently control the operating agreements of the Colorado River Basin such as the December 2007 Colorado River Interim Guidelines for Lower Basin Shortages, Coordinated Operations for Lake Powell and Lake Mead and international agreements between the United States and Mexico. You can read the release from the Bureau of Reclamation here.
In order to take advantage of this opportunity, on August 10, 2022, BlueRibbon Coalition released its Path to 3588′ plan, which presents a path to stabilize the the lake levels of Lake Powell and Lake Mead and ultimately raise the water levels in the lakes.
In an era of unprecedented drought, old assumptions and protocols for managing water supply in the Colorado River watershed no longer work. Creative, collaborative solutions are needed to ensure that the major reservoirs in the system can store sufficient water, generate power, and provide economically important recreational opportunities into the future. As recognized by the BOR, the current rate of water consumption within the system is unsustainable, at least as long as water supplies and snowpack remain generally below historic averages, a trend likely to continue into the future.
The Path to 3588 Plan describes a way forward to meet this historic challenge. It involves a combination of equitably reducing water use among the affected states and Mexico, reimagining the volume and timing of water releases through the major dams, and having enough flexibility built in so that if the reservoirs begin to fill sufficiently, restrictions on water use can ease.
We invite you to review the plan here:
As recreation users have made their voice heard over the past few months we have had a positive response from the Bureau of Reclamation. Recreation users will be crucial in the coming years to stay engaged in this process. The economic impact of recreation use not only at Lake Powell but other reservoirs within the Colorado Basin is what sustains many communities and tribes. The Bureau of Reclamation has started inviting us as a partner NGO to be part of their discussions on these changes.
Please add your voice to ours before the September 1, 2022 deadline to tell the Bureau of Reclamation that you support the Path to 3588′ plan. You can send your comment using the form below. Please take some time to tell the Bureau of Reclamation why recreating on Lake Powell is important to you to make your comment even stronger.