New push to shore up shrinking Colorado River could reduce water flow to California
Colorado River, which is responsible for two-thirds of the water supply to Southern California, is running low again. (Ricardo Alarcón / Los Angeles Times)
The Colorado River — the water that supplies half of the water to Southern California — is running out. And now a new push to shore up the shrinking river could reduce water flows to California.
If state legislators don’t pass a bill establishing mandatory water conservation targets, the state and the Bureau of Reclamation will have to take action to protect the water supply.
State Senator Mike Thompson, a Republican, has filed a bill to mandate water conservation targets. He has a two-year timetable for completion: 2014 and 2016.
“California now has the chance to act on a solution that has already worked in several Western states,” Thompson said during his Senate floor speech on Tuesday.
But even in such a short time, state lawmakers have yet to pass a statewide water conservation plan.
“I have not heard anything but more talk about it,” said Bob Deutsch, water and resources senior vice-president at the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which serves Los Angeles and Ventura counties.
The MWD has set a goal of 20 percent cut in water use by 2020, to be achieved by reducing water use for residential, commercial and industrial activities.
Water officials, however, say the MWD cannot meet the requirements of House Bill 566 until it has a statewide water reduction plan.
The bill requires the regional water authorities of seven West Coast states — including California, Oregon and Washington, Utah, Arizona and Nevada — to devise a unified conservation plan that would apply to their entire basins.
The plan would establish water conservation targets that have to be met by 2014, which is two years after the bill’s passage.
If a state conservation plan isn’t approved by July 2013, the water agencies — a coalition of state and federal agencies — would have to establish new conservation targets based on existing plans, according to the bill.
Thompson said the bill he is filing with lawmakers is the only measure that addresses the issue