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Colorado River Drought Contingency Planning

In December 10, 2014, the Upper Colorado River Commission adopted a resolution regarding the development of an emergency Upper Basin Drought Contingency Plan.  The resolution was prompted by fluctuating water elevations and low storage at Colorado River reservoirs, particularly Lakes Powell and Mead, resulting from historic drought conditions in the Colorado River Basin. Since 2014, the Upper Division States of Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming have been working diligently on a Drought Contingency Plan for the Upper Basin.  At the same time, the Lower Division States of Arizona, California and Nevada have been developing a Lower Basin Drought Contingency Plan.  The Department of Interior has been involved in the development of both Plans, and the Republic of Mexico has agreed to participate in drought contingency planning efforts upon implementation of a Lower Basin Plan.

  • The Upper Basin Drought Contingency Plan (DCP) is designed to: a) protect critical elevations at Lake Powell and help ensure continued compliance with the 1922 Colorado River Compact, and b) establish the foundation for the storage of water in the Upper Basin as part of a Demand Management Program that may be developed in the future.

  • The Lower Basin DCP is designed to: a) require Arizona, California and Nevada to contribute additional water to Lake Mead storage at predetermined elevations, and b) create new flexibility to incentivize additional voluntary conservation of water to be stored in Lake Mead.

On March 19, 2019, representatives of the Seven Colorado River Basin States sent a letter to Congress attaching the final draft interstate DCP agreements and requesting federal legislation for the Upper and Lower Basin DCPs (available to view and download here).