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What will Colorado River deal mean for Yuma and Imperial counties?

Yuma water experts say plans to conserve the Colorado River’s water, announced Monday, won’t hurt the agricultural industry here.

Water attorney Megan Scott told KAWC that the three million acre-feet of water savings over the next three years would not apply to agriculture because Yuma and Arizona have priority water rights.

Water users in California, Arizona and Nevada are ready to work on reducing 3 million acre-feet of water over the next three years as existing river management agreements expire.

One acre foot of water is enough to cover a football field one foot deep.

More than $1 billion in funds from the Control Inflation Act will go to farmers, cities and tribes to reduce water intake in rivers.

“This is a short-term deal, a short-term deal to build stability and prepare for 2026,” said Brenda Berman, who runs the Central Arizona Project.

States were under pressure from the Biden administration to curb their use or risk federal intervention. This winter’s heavy snowfall has eased some of that urgency, giving local water leaders more time to negotiate future agreements.

“Considering previous agreements, this is a positive outcome,” Scott said.

The Imperial Irrigation District, which borders Yuma County, California, projects that the downstream proposal will increase temporary, voluntary, and indemnified conservation by approximately 250,000 acre-feet per year, subject to the establishment of a federal funding agreement. .

“Of this, the IID portion will be 1 million acre-feet, totaling 250,000 acre-feet per year for four years,” IID spokesman Robert Shetler told KAWC.

Asked whether it would be sustainable for Imperial County’s water needs, Shetler said it meant additional conservation.

“What we haven’t figured out yet is how that conservation is generated,” he says. “It is our preference to further strengthen existing farm conservation programs.”

“Producers who are already registered for this can simply offer more services, but that will probably require more investment,” continued Shetler. “The other factor is that if we can’t produce enough in this way, we’re probably going to run out of some land.” That’s it. ”

Shetler said IID wants to rotate fields throughout the season, rather than year-round, if fallow is required.

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