Colorado River Users Talk Resource Constraints

December 13, 2013
Minute 319 an agreement between Mexico and the United States should restore the now dry Colorado River Delta.

The Colorado River Water Users Association met in Las Vegas this week to discuss how to deal with some of the lowest water levels on record. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell spoke to the group Friday.

The theme of the Interior Secretary’s speech was constrained resources — a tight budget and the resource on everyone’s mind, water. Despite financial constraints, Jewell said her agency is committed to providing scientific research for innovative conservation and incentive grants.

“Climate models and droughts of this magnitude and worse are going to be more common in the Southwest for decades to come," Jewell said. “And yet I don’t think we’re ready to pack up, shut down Las Vegas, shut down our farms and start to import what we eat. We’ve got to work together.”

She mentioned the collaborative effort to make a deal with Mexico known as Minute 319 and the tribal partners working on water solutions.

While Jewell did not lay out specific conservation examples to deal with the impending water shortage, environmentalists are quick to point to water recycling and water banking.

Jewell discussed another critical issue — a massive turnover of Bureau of Reclamation staff. More than 50 percent of department employees are eligible to retire in the next five years.