Gila River Indian Community played a key role in Colorado River water negotiations

By Ron Dungan
Published: Thursday, May 25, 2023 - 1:28pm
Updated: Thursday, May 25, 2023 - 1:32pm

Coverage of tribal natural resources is supported in part by Catena Foundation

Lower Basin states recently announced a short-term agreement that will keep water in the Colorado River’s reservoirs.

Gov. Katie Hobbs, Arizona water managers and Gila River Indian Community Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis recently talked about the accord at a press conference. 

The Department of Interior had threatened cutbacks to the Lower Basin if they failed to come to an agreement.

Arizona and Nevada have already seen their Colorado River allotments reduced in the last couple of years, and California seemed to adopt a wait-and-see approach as negotiations dragged on. But the states came to an agreement Monday.

Stephen Roe Lewis
Bret Jaspers/KJZZ
Gila River Indian Community Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis in 2021.

The Gila River community helped Arizona meet its conservation goals, and Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis said that cooperation will be critical in future negotiations.

"You know we see ourselves modeling good behavior in time of this historic drought," Lewis said.

Although details of the cutbacks have yet to be worked out, more than $1 billion in funding from the Inflation Reduction Act will pay for conservation projects under the terms of the deal.