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Wakimoto tells supervisors drought plans not yet signed

January 10, 2019

KINGMAN — Mohave County supervisors and staff on Monday heard a presentation about a water conference held last month.

Former District 5 Sup. Lois Wakimoto gave the presentation. She attended a Dec. 12-14 conference of the Colorado River Water Users Association in Las Vegas.

Wakimoto said a drought contingency plan was not signed at the end of the three-day water conference and the agreements are in flux. California and Nevada can go through those states’ water districts while Arizona has to go through the legislature to pass the contingency plan.

The drought contingency plan has to be signed by the legislature by the end of January or the federal government would have to take over and decide where the cuts and allocations are to be made, Wakimoto said.

Wakimoto said the goal is to pass the plan by the end of January and that no water is transferred from the Colorado River to the Central Arizona Project. The drought contingency plan requires the water level in Lake Mead be above the minimum level.

If water levels drop below 1,075 feet elevation, it would trigger cuts in water allocation downstream. The water elevation level at Lake Mead was at 1,081 feet last month. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation predicts the lake will dropped below 1,075 in 2020.

District 5 Sup. Ron Gould said Arizona’s legislature starts next Monday and a bill may not get proposed in time for the regular session. A special session may have to be called by Gov. Doug Ducey.

The CRWUA includes representatives from Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming and the federal government.

Water from the Colorado River supports about 40 million people for residential, commercial and agricultural needs. Water from the dams also turns hydroelectric turbines providing electricity to several states.

The Southwest has seen a decade-long drought that could lead to mandatory cutbacks of water use and shortages. Lake Powell is about at 43 percent capacity while Lake Mead is at about 38 percent capacity.

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