By Todd Hartman
Special to The SUN
The states of Wyoming, Colorado, Utah and New Mexico have embarked on a unique test program to shore up declining reservoir levels if the 15-year drought that has plagued the Colorado River continues into the future.
On July 1, the four states approved 10 projects that allow farmers, municipalities and other water users to voluntarily and temporarily forego use of their water in exchange for compensation. On Aug. 13, the first agreement was reached on one project within Colorado, in the Yampa River Basin.
The states hope that this “forbearance” of water use will supply information that can be used in times of extreme drought as part of a contingency plan to ultimately reduce impacts on Lake Powell, a major Colorado River reservoir located on the Utah-Arizona state line. Lake Powell releases water to Lake Mead for use by the states of Arizona, Nevada and California, and the Republic of Mexico pursuant to an interstate agreement among the seven Colorado River states and a treaty between the United States and Mexico. Lake Powell is also a major producer of hydropower for the western United States.