U.S. Water News Online
LOS ANGELES -- The Bureau of Reclamation has signed an
agreement with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California
for a demonstration program that will help determine if creating
"surplus" water in Lake Mead can be used as a long-term water
management tool on the lower Colorado River.
This demonstration program will allow Metropolitan to leave water
in Lake Mead in 2006 and 2007 that the district would otherwise use.
This water -- called "Intentionally Created Surplus" or "ICS" water
-- is defined as water that has been conserved through an
extraordinary conservation measure, such as land fallowing.
Metropolitan plans to create 50,000 acre feet of ICS water in
2006. To accomplish this, Metropolitan will use water that has been
conserved through an existing land management, crop rotation and
water supply program with Palo Verde Irrigation District near Blythe,
California. Metropolitan is entitled to divert and use the water
conserved through this program in its six-county Southern California
service area. To create the ICS water, Metropolitan will leave up to
50,000 acre feet of this conserved water in Lake Mead instead of
using it this year.
In 2007, Metropolitan will be allowed to create up to 200,000 acre
feet of ICS water in Lake Mead; that water would come from a variety
of programs being implemented in California to conserve Colorado
River water. A separate agreement will be required to allow
Metropolitan to recover the ICS water in subsequent years.
"This demonstration program has several benefits," said Bob
Johnson, Regional Director for Reclamation's Lower Colorado Region.
"For example, five percent of the ICS water will be dedicated to the
Colorado River system, providing a water supply benefit to all Lower
Basin water users. The program also will augment the Colorado River
system storage, and help avoid, delay or reduce the severity of a
shortage in the Lower Colorado River Basin."
Metropolitan General Manager Jeff Kightlinger said the
demonstration project could serve as a model for future programs that
would help improve Metropolitan's dry-year supply reliability without
building costly infrastructure.
"The true significance of this demonstration program is that the
benefits are spread among all Colorado River users," Kightlinger
said. "In addition to providing supply, power generation and
recreational benefits, this innovative approach offers a creative
solution that could delay or prevent shortage conditions in the
future for all Basin states."
Other terms of the agreement include:
The full text of this agreement is available on Reclamation's web
site, at www.usbr.gov/lc/riverops.html.
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