President Trump’s Budget proposal threatens water conservation efforts in the Lower Colorado River Basin

Lower Colorado River agriculture | Photo: Amy Martin

If you've ever had vegetables in winter, this river runs through your veins.

The Lower Colorado River provides drinking water to 30 million people in some of the fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the U.S., including Las Vegas, Phoenix, Tucson, Los Angeles and San Diego. The river is critical to the future of agriculture in the region, providing water for over five million acres of farmland growing crops worth roughly $600 million annually. It supports a thriving recreation and tourism industry from the Grand Canyon to the Vegas Strip. The Lower Colorado has a total annual economic impact of $900 billion.

The Lower Colorado is the hardest working river in the United States. It is over-tapped, over-allocated and stretched to breaking. Each year, the Lower Basin uses an average of 1.2 million more acre-feet of water than it receives in flows from the Upper Colorado River Basin. If this continues, the Bureau of Reclamation will be forced to curtail water delivery for this region.

Over the past several years, federal agencies and state water leaders have made considerable progress toward water conservation and programs that reduce overuse of the river. This success is threatened by the Trump Administration’s Fiscal Year 2018 Budget proposal, the implementation of which would cut funding to critical federal programs like the Bureau of Reclamations’ System Conservation Program, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program, and the Department of Interior’s WaterSMART program and Title XVI grants for municipal conservation and efficiency efforts. These cuts could potentially reverse progress made by states, cities and farmers to reduce water consumption in the Lower Colorado River Basin.

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Tell Congress to reject President Trump’s budget and fully fund water conservation efforts in the Lower Colorado River.

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