Bureau of Reclamation Confirms Deeper Colorado River Shortages in 2023 and No Deal Yet Among States on Water Reductions

Statement from Chris Kuzdas, EDF and Water for Arizona Coalition

August 16, 2022
Ronna Kelly, (415) 293-6161, rkelly@edf.org

(PHOENIX, AZ — Aug. 16, 2022) The Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) released its August 24-month study for the Colorado River Basin today, forecasting continued dire conditions for water levels in Lake Mead and Lake Powell. The study confirmed deeper, first-ever “Tier 2a” Colorado River cuts for Arizona to take effect  in January. The study comes on the heels of BOR Commissioner Camille Touton’s announcement in June that Colorado River Basin states must develop a plan to conserve 2 million to 4 million acre-feet of water in 2023. The states have not yet announced a plan that specifically meets those goals. 

In response to the 24-month forecast, Chris Kuzdas, co-lead of the Water for Arizona coalition and a senior water program manager at Environmental Defense Fund, released the following statement:

“We knew this day was coming. Demands have continually outpaced available supply on the Colorado River, and we’ve now used up most of our water supply buffers in Lakes Mead and Powell. With one more dry winter, there may not be enough water in storage to stave off a major water system failure for Arizona and the Southwest. 

“It is imperative that the states and parties continue working in good faith to develop a plan to reduce water use. That plan must live up to the challenge and scale outlined by Commissioner Touton. Time is of the essence, and failure is not an option. 

“We must fundamentally change how we manage and relate to water in Arizona. Real, lasting solutions must involve more permanent water use reductions. The recently passed Inflation Reduction Act dedicates $4 billion to drought preparedness to help make those changes possible. But in Arizona, we still lack the fundamental policies needed to use those funds effectively, and to bring demand in line with actual water supplies in a more arid climate. That’s why we need Arizona to adopt our coalition’s Water Security Plan to set us on the right path toward ensuring that every Arizonan, business, and community has access to reliable water supplies.”

# # #

The Water for Arizona Coalition is a community of Arizonans who support innovative practices and smart policies to ensure a reliable water supply to meet the state’s needs. The Coalition was recently recognized as an Arizona Capitol Times “2020 Leader of the Year” for their efforts in protecting Arizona’s most valuable resource. Organizational support is provided by solution-oriented groups like American Rivers, Business for Water Stewardship, Environmental Defense Action Fund, National Audubon Society, and Western Resource Advocates that collectively have over 60,000 Arizona members, as well as hundreds of hunters, anglers, and outdoor recreation enthusiasts across the state.

One of the world’s leading international nonprofit organizations, Environmental Defense Fund (edf.org) creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. To do so, EDF links science, economics, law, and innovative private-sector partnerships. With more than 3 million members and offices in the United States, China, Mexico, Indonesia and the European Union, EDF’s scientists, economists, attorneys and policy experts are working in 28 countries to turn our solutions into action. Connect with us on Twitter @GrowingReturns or subscribe to our On the Water Front blog.