Program assists Colorado River stakeholders with voluntarily conserving water to meet Bureau of Reclamation’s call to reduce use
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators John Hickenlooper celebrated the inclusion of the Colorado River Basin Conservation Act in the Fiscal Year 2023 omnibus government funding bill. The bipartisan bill Hickenlooper introduced with Senator John Barrasso will reauthorize the System Conservation Pilot Program, which offers compensation to Colorado River users in exchange for voluntary and temporary water conservation measures.
“Voluntary conservation is just one part of the solution to our Colorado River crisis,” said Hickenlooper. “This is an encouraging step toward sustainability.”
Earlier this year, 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 next year 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.
In July, the Colorado River Basin Conservation Act was introduced and passed out of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee as an amendment to the Salton Sea Projects Improvements Act. At the beginning of December, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held an additional hearing on the legislation.
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.