Western States Strike Historic Deal on Water Use

California, Arizona and Nevada have agreed give up 3 million acre-feet of water from the Colorado River under a historic deal reached Tuesday. Each state will take in about 13% less water from the exhausted reservoirs over the next three years. In return, water users will receive $1.2 billion in federal compensation.

The agreement follows more than a year of negotiations and is largely seen as a win for California. In the end, California agreed to give up about 1.6 million acre-feet, which is roughly what it offered six months ago.  

Imperial Valley farmers will see the largest impacts. The Imperial Irrigation District plans to reduce farm usage by around 250,000 acre-feet per year. The Metropolitan Water District – which services Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties – will cut 130,00 acre-feet of water annually. The federal government’s compensation will be $400 per acre foot.

At least half of the 3 million acre feet will be conserved by the end of 2024. Thanks to heavy rains this past winter, the immediate impacts in SoCal will be minimal, MWD Colorado River Manager Bill Hasencamp told CalMatters.

The agreement still needs to be approved by the U.S. Interior Department.

To learn more about how this deal will impact Californians, read Alastair Bland’s analysis at CalMatters