GRIC, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation sign agreement meant to move parties forward on drought contingency plan
January 20, 2017
Communications & Public Affairs Office
Gila River Indian Community
On Jan. 18, the Gila River Indian Community Council approved and the Governor Stephen R. Lewis executed an agreement with the United States, acting through the Bureau of Reclamation that will allow Arizona parties to continue their negotiations and efforts to conclude a comprehensive plan to address the severe drought on the Colorado River.
This agreement, called the “DCP+ Principles Agreement and Bridge System Conservation Implementation Agreement” has three major components. One, it sets forth the major principles on which the United States and the Community agree for purposes of a subsequent “DCP+ Agreement”, which is a necessary condition for Arizona participation in the Drought Contingency Plan, which is discussed further below.
Two, it sets forth an agreement for the Community and the United States to commit 40,000 AF of the Community’s CAP water entitlement to remain in Lake Mead in 2017. This commitment by the Community, using water it conserved and is made available for this purpose through its implementation of its long-term water plan, makes it possible for the overall water conservation efforts contemplated in the proposed DCP+ Agreement to succeed in 2017 while the Arizona parties continue their discussions to finalize it.
Three, today’s agreement sets forth a commitment by the Community and the United States to work together to find ways to conserve additional water on Reservation and provide a mechanism for CAP reliability and flexibility features in the Community water delivery system.
The agreements signed by the Governor today are part of a comprehensive Secretarial Order issued by Secretary Jewell that sets forth the Department of the Interior’s broad initiative for addressing severe drought conditions on the Colorado River.
Governor Stephen Lewis stated, “Our agreement with the Department of the Interior is an essential step toward a plan for comprehensively addressing Arizona’s pressing drought problem. The Community is working hard to try and create a framework that will work for all in the State and is pleased with this very successful first step in that right direction. We want to thank the Commissioner of Reclamation, Estevan Lopez, and his entire team for their tireless efforts and we very much appreciate our cooperation with them. This is just the beginning, but it is an essential first step, and this agreement provides federal support for essential infrastructure needed to ensure reliability and flexibility for our CAP water delivery system.”
According to a Department of Interior news release, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell issued the Secretarial Order on Jan. 18, directing the DOI, along with its bureaus, to continue working to finalize drought contingency plans to assist in reducing water shortages in the Upper and Lower Colorado River Basins. The order also directs the DOI and its bureaus to complete a Colorado River bi-national cooperative agreement with Mexico, called “Minute 32X”.
Secretary Jewell said in the news release, “I am proud of the tremendous progress we have made over the last eight years to work with our basin states, tribal and Mexican partners to address water resource challenges in the Colorado River Basin,” said Secretary Jewell. “With water from the Colorado River supporting the life and livelihood for an estimated 40 million people, it is absolutely critical for the Department of the Interior to continue to build on this progress and finalize these agreements.”
DOI Deputy Secretary Michael L. Connor said in the release “The Department of the Interior has worked tirelessly with its partners to come to agreements to ensure that all the basin stakeholders move forward with coordinated plans to address the increasing challenges facing all Colorado River communities. This Secretarial Order ensures that Interior will continue to provide essential support for critical actions and paves the way to help carry these important agreements across the finish line.”