Fall 2019: Contingency Plan

Drought Contingency Planning on the Colorado River

Colorado River Basin states, tribes, and Mexico share their dependency on the Colorado River and are ready to share in its shortage. The Drought Contingency Plan (DCP), signed in 2019, brings cuts in water use to the lower basin and new water management tools to the upper basin. But, with the upper basin still exploring demand management and the DCP expiring in 2026, the work isn’t done. View or download a flipbook of the magazine here or read articles below.

Beyond the Signing: What the Drought Contingency Plan means for the Colorado River Basin

By Laura Paskus

After a committed push to forge an approach to cope with climate-change-induced drought on the Colorado River, the Drought Contingency Plan is final. As implementation beings, the basin continues to reckon with a future likely to yield less water.

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The Great Reconciliation
November 20, 2019 by Allen Best
For the lower basin, the Drought Contingency Plan brings near-immediate cuts in water use, starting in 2020 and continuing through 2026, or as long as reservoir levels in Lake Mead decline. Agreeing to this tightening of water use was painful, and living with it won't be any easier.
Lake Powell, created with the 1963 completion of Glen Canyon Dam, is the upper basin's largest reservoir on the Colorado River. But 2000-2019 has provided the least amount of inflow into the reservoir, making it the lowest 20-year period since the dam was built, as evidenced by the "bathtub ring" and dry land edging the reservoir, which was underwater in the past. As of October 1, 2019, Powell was 55 percent full. Credit: EcoFlight
Avoiding Lake Powell’s Day Zero
by Lindsay Fendt
The upper basin has new tools to manage water in dry years to avoid mandatory cutbacks. Now begins the challenge of determining if each state and its stakeholders will further hedge against risk and come to terms with hard realities by adopting a large-scale demand management program.
Welcoming Tribes to the Table
by Kelly Bastone
The 29 Native American tribes with rights to Colorado River water are fighting for inclusion—and collaboration.
An International Model for Transboundary River Cooperation
by Dana Strongin
Recent binational agreements or "minutes," established in 2012 and 2017, lay out how the U.S. and Mexico will continue to share, conserve and restore the shrinking Colorado River. What progress has been made and what comes next?

Thank You to This Issue's Sponsors

HW fall 2019 DCP Sponsor logos
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