CAP board pushes new drought plan for Lake Mead protection

Trying to rejigger stalled talks on a plan to protect Lake Mead, the CAP board is pushing a new plan to spend up to $60 million to compensate water users whose supplies would be cut due to future Colorado River shortages.
The Drought Contingency Plan proposal approved by the Central Arizona Project board last week is a less-ambitious, less-expensive and shorter-term blueprint than those proposed earlier by water agencies and the Gila River Indian Community.
It would help farmers pay for new wells and more water efficiency, and provide more water for tribes than they’d get under the drought plan’s earlier versions.
“We want to come up with a plan that this board by itself can approve — a plan we believe would work.” The drought plan is aimed at keeping Lake Mead from falling to catastrophically low levels.
It would boost the level of cuts in CAP water deliveries to farms, cities and tribes as soon as shortages on the Colorado River begin — as early as 2020.
It means bringing an end to attempts to vilify other water users and casting aspersions on their motives.” Pinal County farmers would get what they see as “full mitigation” of previously proposed cuts: 595 million acre-feet of water over seven years through 2026.
The proposal also would provide some relief to cuts planned during early shortages to the Gila River tribal community and to many Phoenix-area cities.
Their class of water users would get 88,000 acre-feet a year of mitigation, about three-fourths of what was going to be cut.
The CAP would spend up to $60 million to buy up to 250,000 acre-feet for mitigation.
That’s far more than what cities and other CAP users are paying today for the river water.

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