Utah touts ‘progress’ in Colorado River negotiations

By Jennifer Yachnin | 05/15/2024 04:46 PM EDT

“I think the commitment level to stay together on a seven-state proposal is significantly higher now than it was a few weeks ago,” said one state official.

Lake Mead is seen.

Lake Mead is seen from Boulder City, Nevada, in 2023. Matt York/AP

Utah state officials negotiating the future of the Colorado River Basin said progress has been made in a recent series of interstate meetings, but offered few details beyond the competing proposals submitted to the Biden administration months ago.

Amy Haas, executive director of the Colorado River Authority of Utah, and Colorado River Commissioner of Utah Commissioner Gene Shawcroft on Wednesday discussed a series of meetings held among the seven Colorado River states in recent months.

The Bureau of Reclamation is currently weighing proposals from the Upper and Lower Basin states — Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming, and Arizona, California and Nevada, respectively — as it prepares the next long-term operating plan for the drought-stricken waterway.


A series of existing agreements for the 1,450-mile river, which supports 40 million people and irrigates 5.5 million acres of farmland, will expire at the end of 2026. The Interior Department now must decide how to address future potential shortfalls in the river.