For more than 30 years, CAP’s Board of Directors has been a collaborative partner in Arizona’s water community. The 15-member, publicly elected board has guided policies, making decisions that were momentous and shaped Arizona’s water future.
Each month for the rest of the year, CAP’s blog will highlight one of those history-making decisions.
This week starts with CAWCD’s support of Minute 319, a part of the 1944 Water Treaty between the U.S. and Mexico.
Minute 319 was a unique collaboration between the two countries, the seven Basin States, and key water users, such as CAP, to resolve the significant challenges of protecting Colorado River users from shortages as well as developing new water supplies.
While the signatories to Minute 319 are the US and Mexico Commissioners of the International Boundary and Water Commission, the CAWCD Board approved and participated in five agreements necessary to implement the historic Minute, signed in November 2012. The implementing agreements are between CAWCD, the Basin States (including ADWR), key water users in California and Nevada, and the United States. These agreements frame how the provisions of the Minute would be implemented in the United States and the role of the key water users, including funding conservation programs in Mexico. The domestic agreements were key to the collaborative solutions that provided benefits to water users in both countries.
The Minute was a five-year agreement which provided interim water management strategies for the shared Colorado River resource. These strategies included:
- managing shortages in the Colorado River system;
- providing operational flexibility and storage in U.S. reservoirs for Mexico's Colorado River supply;
- maintaining salinity standards;
- encouraging water conservation and binational water development projects; and,
- providing environmental benefits in the Colorado River delta region of Mexico.
One component of the agreement involved the U.S., CAP, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) and Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) contributing a combined $21 million to Mexico for water conservation projects such as canal lining in the Mexicali Valley. In return, Mexico contributed 53,000 acre-feet of water for environmental uses in the Colorado River Delta and about 95,000 acre-feet to the U.S water users including CAWCD.
Minute 319 only is effective through 2017, so the U.S. and Mexico are working on the next Minute, which is anticipated to be Minute 323, to continue the collaborative efforts. CAWCD is playing a key role in the development of Minute 323 by participating in salinity, hydrology, and conservation project work groups, in collaboration with ADWR. The completion and signing of Minute 323 will help to continue the cooperative management of this valuable shared resource of the Colorado River.