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Positive outlook on Colorado River negotiations among Utah leaders



Salt Lake City, Utah — The negotiators from Utah are upbeat as they attempt to hammer out a new management deal for the Colorado River with other states and Mexico.

“In the last few meetings, we’ve made much progress in recognizing that we have to come up with the solution,” Gene Shawcroft, who serves as the Colorado River Commissioner for Utah, said at a news conference on Wednesday.

The states have met multiple times since then and want to continue meeting, according to Shawcroft.

Here are a few points where we do agree: The states in the lower basin, along with Mexico, have reached an agreement to decrease their water use from the Colorado River. That was a component of a deal that the United States Bureau of Reclamation and water agencies in California announced last year.

“We agree that we need to begin to operate the system based on actual conditions and not on forecast which are inherently unreliable,” said Amy Haas, the executive director of the Colorado River Authority of Utah.

In response to river losses and claims that certain states are overusing water, the federal government has received plans from every state along the river. The states should draft their own management agreement since, failing that, it may be imposed by the federal government or the courts.

“There are certainly things in our proposal that are similar and that’s what we’re focusing on,” said Shawcroft.

From a political standpoint, the Colorado River discussions have the potential to affect over 40 million individuals spread over seven states, tribal territories, and Mexico. Because a large portion of the Wasatch Front relies on water from the Colorado River, Utah is keen to safeguard its use of the river.

Government officials in Utah have proposed measures to increase water availability. For instance, J. Stuart Adams (R-Layton), the Senate President, has brought up the possibility that California may finance a desalination plant that Utah could purchase in return for a portion of the water that Utah receives from the Colorado River.

Shawcroft replied that the matter might be addressed at a later date when asked about the proposal.

“That’s one of those thoughts that could occur and one of many, many things that will be looked at over the next several months,” he said.


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