The Latest: Irrigation district opposes draft drought bill

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - The Latest on a Colorado River drought plan (all times local):

3 p.m.

A California irrigation district that has the largest entitlement to Colorado River water says it doesn't support proposed federal legislation to implement a multi-state drought plan.

The Imperial Irrigation District says language in a packet that several Western states recently sent to Congress would waive environmental laws.

Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming recently agreed to push for federal legislation to implement drought contingency plans. Under the plans, the states would give up water to keep two reservoirs from dropping drastically.

The Imperial Irrigation District said it won't commit to the plan unless it secures $200 million in federal funding to help restore a massive briny lake southeast of Los Angeles.

Testimony submitted to a congressional panel Wednesday says the plans comply with environmental laws and regulations.

1:15 p.m.

Arizona U.S. Sen. Martha McSally has vowed to take quick action on a plan to preserve a major river in the U.S. West amid a prolonged drought.

Seven Western states are looking to Congress to pass legislation to implement drought contingency plans. Without approval, the states say the risk increases for water deliveries and hydropower at two key reservoirs along the Colorado River.

The river serves 40 million people in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming, as well as Mexico.

The drought plans got their first hearing Wednesday before a subcommittee that McSally chairs.

McSally says she'll introduce a bill soon to implement the plans that the states have spent years negotiating.

The states want congressional approval by April 22 so that Mexico's water contributions also kick in next year.

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12:01 a.m.

A plan that outlines how seven states will deal with declining flows in a major river in the U.S. West is getting its first hearing in Congress.

The drought contingency plan aims to keep two Colorado River reservoirs from crashing.

Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming recently agreed to push for federal legislation to implement the plan.

Their goal is to have a bill approved by April 22 so that Mexico's water contributions also kick in next year, though nothing's been introduced yet.

The head of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is among those testifying before a U.S. Senate subcommittee Wednesday on the drought plan.

The Colorado River serves 40 million and about 7,812 square miles (20,232 square kilometres) of farmland in the West.


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