Bureau of Reclamation will fund Hickenlooper bill to assist Colorado River stakeholders to voluntarily conserve water
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator John Hickenlooper applauded the Department of the Interior’s announcement of up to $125 million to fund the System Conservation Pilot Program, which was reauthorized through Hickenlooper’s Colorado River Basin Conservation Act.
“To combat the drought crisis on the Colorado River, we all need to work together. Empowering voluntary conservation is a critical part of managing our diminished water supplies,” said Hickenlooper.
In 2022, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation called on Colorado River states to reduce water use by 2 to 4 million acre-feet by the end of 2023 or risk facing mandatory cuts. In response, the Upper Colorado River Commission released a 5-point plan to meet the reduction, which includes reauthorization of the System Conservation Pilot Program. These water conservation measures from the System Conservation Pilot Program can be used to help maintain reservoir levels in Lake Mead and Lake Powell.
The System Conservation Pilot Program offers compensation to Colorado River users in exchange for voluntary and temporary water conservation measures. Hickenlooper’s Colorado River Basin Conservation Act, which reauthorizes the System Conservation Pilot Program, was included and signed into law in the Fiscal Year 2023 omnibus government funding bill.
This funding, made possible by the Inflation Reduction Act, will enable the Bureau of Reclamation, in partnership with the Upper Colorado River Commission, to immediately move forward to implement the System Conservation Pilot Program.
As governor, Hickenlooper helped negotiate the Colorado River Basin Drought Contingency Plan which sought to manage demand in order to maintain Lake Powell and Lake Mead levels, ensure compliance with the 1922 Colorado River Compact, and stave off mandatory cuts from the Bureau of Reclamation.