Pacific Institute’s Michael Cohen Issues Statement Regarding Joint Colorado River Agreement
California, USA (May 22, 2023) – In response to Arizona, California, and Nevada’s joint Colorado River agreement, Pacific Institute Senior Researcher Michael Cohen has issued the following statement:
“The joint agreement by Arizona, California, and Nevada to conserve an additional 3.0 million acre-feet through 2026 – with 1.5 MAF of that in the next nineteen months – is a welcome and much-needed step toward protecting the Colorado River system. However, this agreement offers just a small fraction of the reductions the Commissioner demanded last year and will not be sufficient to protect the system should we experience a return of the extremely low runoff seen in 2020, 2021, and 2022.
Combined with the great snowpack in California and the Rockies, this interim commitment steers us away from the threat of unilateral federal action and subsequent litigation and could – depending on next year’s snowpack – protect system storage through 2026. However, many details still need to be resolved and the need for durable solutions remains. The long-term overuse of the Colorado river water, intensified by climate change, threatens water security for the environment and millions of people in the west.
This new agreement bridges differences between Arizona and California marking an important step toward reducing water use to reflect actual water supply. However, we anticipate seeing durable solutions that ensure long-term resilience. These should include water-use reductions from the four Upper Basin states, along with clear commitments to protect the people and ecosystems that these reductions will affect.”
Read more about recently identified challenges of managing the Colorado River and Cohen’s written comments to Congress.