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Latest Western Water News Looks At Challenges Ahead in Next Round of Colorado River Talks
Climate change, growth, tribal water rights and shrinking Salton Sea expected to be among issues facing negotiators

Stakeholders throughout the Colorado River Basin just wrapped up arduous negotiations on a drought plan considered critical to keeping water levels in Lake Mead, the nation’s largest-capacity reservoir, from falling to unacceptable levels.

There’s little time to rest, however. Stakeholders are expected to begin the even more difficult task of hammering out sweeping new guidelines for delivering water and sharing shortages that could re-imagine how the overworked river is managed. The existing interim guidelines, first adopted in 2007, are due to expire in 2026.

With Drought Plan in Place, Colorado River Stakeholders Face Even Tougher Talks Ahead On The River’s Future
WESTERN WATER IN-DEPTH: Talks are about to begin on a potentially sweeping agreement that could reimagine how the Colorado River is managed

Lake Mead, behind Hoover Dam, shows the effects of nearly two decades of drought. Even as stakeholders in the Colorado River Basin celebrate the recent completion of an unprecedented drought plan intended to stave off a crashing Lake Mead, there is little time to rest. An even larger hurdle lies ahead as they prepare to hammer out the next set of rules that could vastly reshape the river’s future.

Set to expire in 2026, the current guidelines for water deliveries and shortage sharing, launched in 2007 amid a multiyear drought, were designed to prevent disputes that could provoke conflict.

Water News You Need to Know

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Friday Top of the Scroll: Disneyland, dozens of cities could be flooded by dam failure, engineers warn

Federal engineers are raising alarms that a “significant flood event” could breach the spillway of Southern California’s aging Prado Dam and potentially inundate dozens of Orange County communities from Disneyland to Newport Beach. After conducting an assessment of the 78-year-old structure earlier this month, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced that it was raising the dam’s risk category from “moderate” to “high urgency.”

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Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Judge rules FEMA must reconsider floodplains plan

A federal judge in San Francisco ruled Wednesday to block the Federal Emergency Management Agency from moving forward with its plans to offer flood insurance to developers and property owners in 100-year flood zones in California, finding that the agency failed to consider effects development might have on endangered wildlife in those areas.

Aquafornia news Ventura County Star

Officials: Rule change needed to keep water flowing to fight wildfires

California agencies have appealed to air pollution control officials to change the rules after backup generators failed and water stopped pumping as wildfires burned last year. They said they need more time to test and maintain diesel-operated generators that power water facilities during a fire. Because of air pollution concerns, the agencies are limited to testing the diesel-powered generators as little as 20 hours per year in some cases.

Aquafornia news Capitol Media Services

Pinal County farmers make another plea for $20M from state to drill wells

Insisting the state made a commitment, a central Arizona lawmaker and farmers he represents are making a last-ditch pitch for $20 million from taxpayers to drill new wells and water delivery canals. Rep. David Cook, R-Globe, said Thursday the farmers in Pinal County agreed to give up their right to Colorado River water to help the state come up with a plan to deal with the drought. In exchange they were given the right to take additional water out of the ground.

Online Water Encyclopedia

Wetlands
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Wetlands

Wetlands are among the most important ecosystems in the world. They produce high levels of oxygen, filter toxic chemicals out of water, reduce flooding and erosion, recharge groundwater and provide a diverse range of recreational opportunities from fishing and hunting to photography. They also serve as critical habitat for wildlife, including a large percentage of plants and animals on California’s endangered species list.

Salton Sea
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Salton Sea

As part of the historic Colorado River Delta, the Salton Sea regularly filled and dried for thousands of years due to its elevation of 232 feet below sea level.

The most recent version of the Salton Sea was formed in 1905 when the Colorado River broke through a series of dikes and flooded the seabed for two years, creating California’s largest inland body of water. The Salton Sea, which is saltier than the Pacific Ocean, includes 130 miles of shoreline and is larger than Lake Tahoe

Drought
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Drought

Drought— an extended period of limited or no precipitation— is a fact of life in California and the West, with water resources following boom and-bust patterns.

No portion of the West has been immune to drought during the last century and drought occurs with much greater frequency in the West than in any other regions of the country.

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Important People in California Water History

Read about the history people who played a significant role in the water history of California.

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