Interior Secretary Kempthorne, Colorado River Water Users Discuss Drought Management

Press Release Tuesday October 31, 12:03 pm ET
Source: Southern Nevada Water Authority
Contacts: Kip White, Bureau of Reclamation (202) 513-0684 or Scott Huntley, Southern Nevada Water Authority (702) 258-7258

LAS VEGAS, Oct. 31 /PRNewswire/ -- Secretary of the Interior Dick Kempthorne met yesterday (Oct. 30) with representatives from the seven states that share the Colorado River's flows to discuss water management issues related to the drought-plagued river.

"The key issue for this river system, as it is for many other river systems around the West, is the competition and demand for a limited resource, and the need to find solutions to this demand that will meet both current and future needs," Kempthorne told the representatives. "This is a tough job, and I look forward to working with you to find consensus solutions to these issues."

Among the items discussed were shortage sharing arrangements associated with persistent Colorado River drought conditions and potential options for augmenting the river system's flows. The Colorado River Basin States are currently collaborating on a system-wide study examining augmentation options, such as desalination, weather modification, and other emerging technologies. The results of the study are scheduled for release next summer. An Environmental Impact Statement related to managing the river system is also being developed.

Representatives from the Colorado River Basin States expressed that Kempthorne's visit underscored his commitment to working proactively and collaboratively on difficult Colorado River issues such as shortage management. The meeting was productive and set a positive tone for the critical times ahead.

This was Kempthorne's first opportunity to meet collectively with officials from the Colorado River Basin States. The Secretary, who was appointed in May 2006, recently made an areial tour of the Colorado River. Attending the meeting were representatives of all seven Basin States: Wyoming, Colorado, Utah and New Mexico (Upper Basin); and Arizona, California and Nevada (Lower Basin). Interior Assistant Secretary for Water & Science Mark Limbaugh, Bureau of Reclamation Commisioner Bob Johnson, Upper Colorado Regional Director Rick Gold and Lower Colorado Acting Regional Director Jayne Harkins rounded out the Interior team.