Udall Welcomes U.S-Mexico Agreement to Confront Growing Demand on Colorado River
Mark Udall welcomed news today that the United States and Mexico, in cooperation with the seven Colorado River Basin states, have reached an agreement to better manage the Colorado River, meeting growing demand along the waterway and promoting environmental restoration.
“I want to congratulate U.S. and Mexican negotiators and the seven states in the Colorado River Basin on reaching this historic agreement,” Udall said. “Mexico is one of Colorado’s and our nation’s most important partners in trade and the Western Hemisphere, not to mention an indispensable partner on the Colorado River. This agreement will continue our mutually beneficial relationship and help ensure that the Colorado River remains strong from its headwaters in the Rocky Mountains to Gulf of California.”
The agreement creates Minute #319 to the 1944 water treaty between the United States and Mexico. The agreement gives Mexico greater flexibility over the storage and delivery of its annual Colorado River allotment. At the same time, it allows the United States to invest in Mexican water infrastructure and reclaim some of the water such projects would save.
“The agreement – and process that led to it – could form the basis for future plans to address the extraordinary water challenges we face in the basin,” Udall added. “It demonstrates that we can improve management of the river and enhance environmental conditions while protecting Colorado’s allocation under the Colorado River Compact.”
According to the U.S. Department of the Interior, elements of the agreement include:
- Implementing efforts to enhance water infrastructure and to promote sharing, storing, and conserving water as needed during both shortages and surpluses;
- Establishing proactive basin operations by applying water-delivery reductions when Lake Mead reservoir conditions are low in order to deter more severe reductions in the future;
- Extending humanitarian measures from a 2010 agreement, Minute 318, to allow Mexico to defer delivery of a portion of its Colorado River allotment while it continues to make repairs to earthquake-damaged infrastructure;
- Establishing a program of Intentionally Created Mexican Allocation (ICMA) whereby Mexico could temporarily reduce its order of Colorado River water, allowing that water to be delivered to Mexico in the future; and,
- Promoting the ecological health of the Colorado River Delta.
Udall has been a strong advocate for upholding and protecting Colorado’s interstate water compacts and federal decrees. Udall, who serves on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, also has been a vocal supporter of maintaining federal funding for programs like the Emergency Watershed Protection program and the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which are used to improve Colorado’s watersheds and waterways.