WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator John Hickenlooper issued the following statement after the Department of the Interior announced it is initiating the formal process to develop future operating guidelines for the Colorado River. The new guidelines will replace the 2007 Colorado River Interim Guidelines for Lower Basin Shortages and the Coordinated Operations for Lake Powell and Lake Mead, which are set to expire at the end of 2026:
“This starts our long-term planning for the new realities of the Colorado River and drying West. The states, Tribes, and communities in the Basin are already finding ways to deal with a drier future and I look forward to helping build on those efforts, supporting work towards a lasting seven-state solution.”
The Department of the Interior’s Notice of Intent (NOI) to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement asks the public to consider the past 15 years of operating experience since adoption of the 2007 Interim Guidelines, as well as how best-available science should inform future operational guidelines and strategies. The department has framed the NOI as the beginning of a transparent process to gather input on how future river management can be sufficiently robust and adaptive to withstand a broad range of hydrological conditions. The NOI also asks the public to consider how and whether the purpose and elements of the 2007 Interim Guidelines should be retained, modified, or eliminated to provide greater stability to water users and the public throughout the Colorado River Basin. The NOI is available for public comment until August 15, 2023.