States Win Battle to Curb California's Water Use
Interior Secretary Gale Norton will sign an agreement on Oct. 16 at Hoover Dam committing California to curb its overuse of the Colorado River. Upon signing, the state agrees to pay more than $2 billion in coming years to secure the water supply that is shifting from Imperial Valley to San Diego and Los Angeles, according to an article in The Arizona Republic.
The Colorado River water-sharing deal that took approximately seven years to negotiate means that Southern California will not be solely dependent on imported supplies from the Colorado River and Northern California to meet demands during a drought. The deal affects four California water agencies.
"(The agreement) further guarantees what Arizona has sought since 1922, that California live within its entitlement of water from the Colorado River," said Assistant Interior Secretary Bennett Raley. In previous years, those California cities had taken water--up to billions of gallons--from the river, and now the agreement will make sure that other states are getting their alottments.
Arizona's concern now is to develop an agreement with its neighbor that would shield Phoenix and Tucson from immediate water shortages, the article reported. Federal rules may leave these cities open to a shortage if the river runs low. However, California will consider protecting the cities once the original agreement is signed.
The agreement entitiles San Diego County Water Authority to purchase up to 277,000 acre-feet of water a year at a cost of about $258 per acre-foot--or about 15 times what the farmers pay--from Imperial Valley farmers. Under the agreement, Nevada will gain temporary access to Lake Mead while it develops new supplies. The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which supplies much of Los Angeles and Orange County, can buy as much as 1.6 million acre-feet of water over the next 15 years
An acre-foot of water is about 326,000 gallons, or enough water to serve the indoor and outdoor needs of a five-person household for one year.