Tucson signs deal to voluntarily forfeit portion of Colorado River allotment

Published: May. 24, 2023 at 9:12 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) - A deal has been struck to conserve water in the Southwest, with Arizona among three states keeping water in Lake Mead. Now, Tucson will play a vital role in that conservation.

On Wednesday, Tucson Mayor Regina Romero took a big step to limit Tucson’s water intake. It’s part of a new deal committing to reduce water allocations by a combined 110,000 acre-feet through 2025. The agreement is part of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022.

Deputy Commissioner Bureau of Reclamation Michael Brain said this step is important. “With today’s announcements, we are taking significant steps in protecting a river that supports 40 million westerners, including tribes, farmers, cities, and ecosystems,” he said. “The challenges posed by climate change and the challenging hydrology caused by this drought are real.”

Due to Wednesday’s agreement, the federal government will now pay the city $400 for every acre-foot of water conserved.

This comes after the city had already offered to leave up to 60,000 acre-feet of its allotment in Lake Mead in 2022 and 2023. “For decades, Tucson Water and the City of Tucson and previous mayors and councils have really brought it home on how important it is to conserve water,” Mayor Romero said.

She added that’s because the city is taking our CAP allocation and putting it in our Aquifer to conserve. This means the city won’t run out of water anytime soon.

“What we are returning back to the Colorado River and Lake Mead is very considerably doable because of what we can conserve the allocation that we will still receive and the water that we have in our Aquifer,” Mayor Romero noted.

Mayor Romero said because of the reduction in Tucson’s allotment, the city will now receive millions of dollars in funds for the cutbacks. She said this would be put towards future infrastructure in the city.