azwater.gov | Getting to the Finish Line: What’s next for Colorado River Drought Contingency Planning?

By Arizona Department of Water Resources and Central Arizona Project

Arizona has worked over the course of several years with the other States in the Colorado River Basin and the United States to develop an interstate Drought Contingency Plan to protect Colorado River supplies. Within Arizona, stakeholders have been working to develop an Implementation Plan, a series of agreements that will govern the way that certain terms of the DCP will be implemented within Arizona once the DCP is effective.

The Implementation Plan is nearly in place. However, we’re not yet able to say it’s “done.”

Last week, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman announced a deadline of January 31, 2019, for the states to complete their work on the DCP.

“To date, (the Department of) Interior has been very supportive and extremely patient with the pace of progress on the DCP,” said the Commissioner at the annual meetings of the Colorado River Water Users Association. “But delay increases the risk for us all.”

“I am here today to tell you all that we will act if needed to protect this basin.”

So, what needs to happen for Arizonans to officially say “the plan is done?” And further.  . . then what?

AZDCP Implementation

Arizona’s participation in the interstate DCP requires a resolution by the Arizona State Legislature authorizing the Director of ADWR to sign the necessary interstate agreements. To facilitate a smooth legislative process, some additional discussion regarding the Implementation Plan is needed. To that end, ADWR and the Central Arizona Water Conservation District (the CAP) are in the process of outlining agreements necessary to turn the Implementation Plan into action. With about six weeks to go, the timing is tight, but all agree it’s “doable.”

Several interstate agreements must be signed to effectuate the DCP. Those agreements include:

Lower Basin DCP

Parties in Arizona, California and Nevada will sign the LBDCP agreement, which includes a document known as the Lower Basin Drought Contingency Operations. In combination with guidelines adopted in 2007, the LBDCP agreement will control operations in the Lower Basin.

Upper Basin DCP

The Upper Colorado River Commission, which includes representatives of Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming, has approved the Upper Basin documents – the Upper Basin Drought Response Operations Agreement and the Upper Basin Demand Management Storage Agreement. This means that, as a group, the Upper Basin states are prepared to sign the DCP.

The “Companion Agreement

A Companion Agreement will bind the Upper Basin and Lower Basin agreements together.

Federal legislation will be required authorizing the Secretary of the Interior to sign the interstate DCP agreements as well.

 

The AZDCP Steering Committee will meet again to discuss the AZDCP Implementation Framework at a meeting to be held from 1 to 3 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 8, at CAP headquarters, 23636 N. 7th St., Phoenix.