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    The Road to Tyranny by Don Jans

    Deal or no deal (Colorado River edition)


    Ben Christopher  BEN CHRISTOPHER

    California and six other drought-parched states have until Tuesday to hammer out a deal to cut their voracious thirst for Colorado River water by up to 30%.

    Don’t hold your breath.

    As the New York Times reported over the weekend, no one is volunteering to make the cuts that the federal government is now demanding, but there’s finger-pointing a-plenty. The Rocky Mountain states of Wyoming, Colorado and Utah blame users down river; Nevada says it’s done enough; and California’s mega user, the Imperial Irrigation District, said the coming water crunch is not its problem.

    • Imperial vice president JB Hamby: “We have sound legal footing…That’s kind of a responsibility on (Arizona’s) part to plan for these risk factors.”

    That’s a major sticking point. As CalMatters’ water reporter Alastair Bland noted earlier this month, the water district in Imperial sucks up more Colorado River water than Nevada and Arizona combined. Even so, growers there say they’re “all squeezed out.”

    Negotiations among the states haven’t been going well for a while now. Last year, the Biden administration gave the seven states an Aug. 16 deadline to come up with a plan to make the unprecedented cuts. The states blew past it.

    Now we have a better sense of what did (or didn’t) happen. The Associated Press got its hands on some of the email back-and-forth that made up those failed haggling.

    • Chris Harris, executive director of the Colorado River Board of California: “I genuinely believe that we are at an impasse, and we’re all headed to a very dark place.”

    A second failure could force the federal government to unilaterally impose restrictions. That would upend 101 years of regional water policy and all but guarantee that a final water deal goes to court

    And while the desiccation of the river is forcing Colorado tribal farmers to fallow their fields, resurfacing suspected victims of mob hits in Nevada and threatening the power-producing capacity of the Hoover Dam, golf courses in Palm Springs are being spared — at least for now.

    As the Los Angeles Times reports, the Coachella Valley Water District recently announced plans to cut back on the water it uses to recharge their underground aquifers, thus avoiding the need to impose mandatory cuts on the area’s biggest users, namely country clubs and resorts.

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