McInnis calls for united front in Colorado River water dispute
U.S. Rep. Scott McInnis rallied 19 other members of Congress Thursday in support of a federal crackdown on California’s use of Colorado River water.
McInnis, R-Grand Junction, also called for a joint resolution from the Colorado House and Senate backing U.S. Interior Secretary Gale Norton’s decision to cut off California’s use of surplus water from the Colorado.
The moves came after members of the California congressional delegation began pressuring Norton to back off her decision.
McInnis and Chris Cannon, R-Utah, responded by rallying other members of Congress to co-sign a letter urging Norton to “stay the course” in cracking down on California’s water use.
All of Colorado’s seven members of the House of Representatives signed the letter. Also signing it were Republicans and Democrats from all of the seven states that make up the Colorado River Basin except California.
McInnis also sent letters to Colorado Senate President John Andrews and Speaker of the House Lola Spradley, asking them to seek passage of a joint resolution on the matter.
“Given the obvious importance of this issue to Colorado, a unanimous vote of the Colorado General Assembly would send the strongest possible message that this matter must be resolved with each state living up to its promises and commitments,” he said.
Norton took action after negotiations failed between Imperial Irrigation District, California’s largest agricultural irrigation district, and the San Diego County Water Authority to gradually reduce the state’s consumption to the 4.4 million acre feet allotted to it under an agreement between basin states. An acre foot is about 326,000 gallons of water.
Currently, California is using about 800,000 acre feet of water above its allotment. Much of that excess belongs to Colorado, which has yet to fully make use of its own river allocation.
“This is an issue on which all of Colorado can agree, for the Colorado River Compact must be upheld if the state of Colorado is to have control over its own destiny.”
The California delegation responded to Norton’s action with a letter that said in part, “The federal government’s contribution … during the past several months has been limited mainly to the issuance of threats and provocations that have impeded rather than encouraged agreements among southern California water agencies.”
Said McInnis, “Apparently, California’s water users are incapable of responding to anything but threats and provocation. If this administration didn’t get tough, my suspicion is that California water users would have been strongly disinclined” to reduce the state’s use of Colorado River water.
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