Shortage Projections For the Lower Colorado Basin Show Tough Times Lie Ahead, Point Toward the Importance of Working Together Toward Balanced Solutions

Above is a map of California released by the U.S. Drought Monitor showing the state’s level of drought as of May 18. The image shows that most of the state is facing severe to extreme drought conditions.

Anyone who pays attention to water issues—or has read about the most recent actions by Gov. Newsom to declare drought emergencies in much of California—knows we find ourselves in a prolonged and, for the most part, uncompromising drought. While in the last couple of years, snow and rain have pushed back a little, the same cannot be said for this year. What limited snowpack there has been, was swallowed by dry soils, which means any snows have done little this year to help the drought. On the Colorado River, in particular the Lower Basin, the most recent projections by the Bureau of Reclamation highlight a worsening situation and the likelihood of consecutive shortage

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Governor’s Announcement of Funding for the Salton Sea Is a Positive Sign

An image of the Salton Sea’s southern shore with a geothermal plant in the background.

This week, Governor Newsom announced major investments in water resiliency and drought funding under his $10 billion “California Comeback” plan that includes $220 million for the Salton Sea. This is a critical gesture toward helping to address the needs of the Salton Sea, and an important sign of a renewed commitment by the state to implement a restoration program. That new funding, when joined with approximately $400 million already allocated for the state’s Salton Sea Management Program (SSMP), represents a step toward fully funding the SSMP’s Phase I: 10-Year Plan. That is assuming the $220 million will be assigned to the SSMP, which is anticipated to be the case.

An image of Gov. Gavin Newsom, who this week announced funding for water resiliency and to address the ongoing drought, including funding for the Salton Sea.


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The QSA JPA is Continuing A Robust Environmental Mitigation Program—As It Has Always Done

This image shows surface roughening that has been done on the southeast corner of the Salton Sea as part of the efforts of the environmental and air quality mitigation program led by Quantification Settlement Agreement Joint Powers Authority. The QSA JPA, since its establishment in 2003, has continued to meet its commitment to the Imperial Valley and specifically the Salton Sea.

When the Quantification Settlement Agreement (QSA) was signed in 2003, it was designed to help California manage its use of the Colorado River and in doing so bring a level of peace among the Basin States that depend on the river. A key component of this historic agreement has been mitigating impacts of the water transfers that are the cornerstone of the QSA. With the environmental effort ongoing, it is worth delving into what that work has entailed from the start of the QSA to where it is today.

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