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Colorado River Water Agreement

Sep 15th, 2021

In the early 1940s, Arizona began to re-evaluate its strategy. To be able to effectively use the Colorado River distribution, water would have to be delivered to the growing population of the southern central part of the state. The heads of state understood that support for such a crop restoration project would depend on Arizona`s ratification of the pact. On February 3, 1944, Arizona ratified the pact unconditionally, 22 years after it was negotiated. Negotiations for a project in central Arizona have begun. The proposed Boulder Canyon project, which included the construction of the All-American Canal and a dam high on the lower river, reinforced hostility between Arizona and California. The project improved California`s access to the Colorado River, which was a major inconvenience for Arizona. The law that approved the bill was passed over Arizona`s objections. Arizona then turned to the courts for satisfaction, but without success. With no casualties across the states — Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming in the upper basin and Arizona, California and Nevada in the lower basin — the reservoir could reach the trigger point next year, though recent heavy snowfall in the mountains that feed the river may help for some time.

In addition to developing their plans and strategies for the Colorado River, states also face various issues that were not addressed by the compact delegates and later became known. Some, such as environmental concerns, were not recognized as important at the time, while others, such as Indian water rights, were simply bypassed by compact negotiators. The result was that the law of the river would last for many more years. Many of these neglected topics are among the most important facing Westerners today. They presented the agreement as a crucial finding that the flow contains on average about 2.5 million less water than what public negotiators wrote in the 1922 pact. A 2017 study by Colorado researcher Brad Udall, director of the CU-National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Western Water Assessment, predicted that temperature increases would lead to a 20 percent drop in Colorado River water by 2050 and a 35 percent drop by the end of the century. There is strong evidence, according to the study, of a 30% drop by 2050 and a 55% drop by the end of the century. In addition, the compacts were wary of delegates and, in some cases, even feared Confederation participation in Colorado River affairs. Arizona v. California has opened the door to federal involvement.

The decision interpreted the Boulder Canyon Act by authorizing the Minister of the Interior to act as the water master of the Lower Colorado River, to establish future surpluses and bottlenecks among states and even among users within states. Theoretically useful, however, such injunctions are very complicated to elaborate, especially when it comes to the water of the Colorado River.

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Oct 2021

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