The Lower Colorado Basin Drought Contingency Plan is a proposal currently under consideration that aims to protect Lake Mead’s elevation from dropping to critical levels. Lake Mead is one of the two largest storage reservoirs on the Colorado River system. Lake Mead water levels are important to Arizona because they determine whether a shortage is declared on the Colorado River. If shortage is declared, Arizona would see a reduction in its Colorado River water supply. It specifies voluntary reductions for each of the Lower Basin states – Arizona, California and Nevada – in order to protect the water in Lake Mead. Lake Mead water levels are important because they determine whether a shortage is declared on the Colorado River.
All the states that share the river, the federal government and Mexico previously agreed to shortage “trigger levels” and resulting reduced delivery amounts in a 2007 shortage sharing agreement. But, the DCP proposes earlier and deeper reductions to Colorado River supplies for Arizona and Nevada beyond those agreed-upon limits. In addition, California for the first time ever, would be asked to take reductions in its Colorado River deliveries if Lake Mead dipped to specified levels.
If the agreement were to be implemented, CAP and its customers would have greater certainty about the longer-term reliability of the Colorado River, allowing CAP to continue supporting the economic and environmental health of central and southern Arizona.