The Biden administration helps broker a deal to save the Colorado River

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The Biden administration helps broker a deal to save the Colorado River | Biden Accomplishments

Photo Credit: Tom Gainor

Climate change and decades of overuse have shrunk the Colorado River and are forcing the seven states that use the river to negotiate how to divvy up cuts or risk it going dry. At stake is the water for 40 million people from Wyoming to the U.S.-Mexico border as well as powerhouse farming operations that irrigate some of the country’s most productive farmland.

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Article Contents

The move

The Bureau of Reclamation, led by a Biden appointee, issued an ultimatum last summer, when reservoir levels were careening toward crisis points, and put legal teeth behind a threat to intervene unilaterally. That forced recalcitrant negotiators to the table. The Biden administration and Congress also successfully muscled through a $4 billion pot of money to help pay for conservation efforts.

The impact

Last spring, the states agreed to a short-term deal to head off the crisis for a couple years, a pact sweetened by the federal cash. Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Camille Calimlim Touton has been on a PR spree across the West to promote the administration’s deals with water agencies in key swing states like Arizona.

The upshot

Negotiators are now starting to figure out what to do after the deal runs out in 2026. They face a spring deadline to agree on how to share the Colorado River’s dwindling flows over the next 20 years. But the federal government will not likely face any big decisions until after the presidential election.



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