Sen. Kelly Urges Department of Interior to Outline Actions to Protect Arizona Water Resources and Colorado River System

Today, amid ongoing drought negotiations among Colorado River Basin states, Arizona Senator Mark Kelly urged the Department of Interior (DOI) to outline actions it can take to compel a Basin-wide agreement that ensures the stability of the Colorado River system. 

Kelly, who negotiated and secured $4 billion in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) for drought mitigation, also called on DOI to withhold federal funds for California’s Salton Sea drought mitigation until California commits to allocating additional water for long-term conservation. Kelly also called on DOI to examine water losses in California due to evaporation and the state’s reliance on surplus water credits to meet its conservation goals.

“Months later, as an agreement remains stalled, it’s clear that Reclamation must outline to states what steps it is willing to take and when to conserve more water. Recognizing Arizona’s significant efforts to protect Lake Mead and Lake Powell, and the role of our farmers as a year-round source of food for our nation, I encourage the Department to outline scenarios for mandatory reductions, including accounting for evaporation losses from Colorado River contractors in California and strengthening limitations on California’s withdrawal of surplus water that it banks in Lake Mead. Additionally, I call on the Department to withhold federal funding for Salton Sea drought mitigation until California commits additional water for long-term conservation,” wrote Kelly in a letter to the Department of Interior. 

Kelly has also continued to push the Biden administration to use every tool at its disposal to protect Arizona farmers, cities, tribes, and businesses from the impacts of this historic western drought. As a member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources and the Committee on Environment and Public Works, Kelly has secured historic investments to combat western drought, improve water resilience, fix and modernize water infrastructure, and protect clean drinking water sources.

See Kelly’s full letter to DOI below: