While California Gov. Gavin Newsom is urging residents of his state to conserve their use of electricity amid an ongoing energy shortage, one fellow Democrat is accusing his state of squandering another limited resource.
In a letter to the governor, U.S. Rep. Greg Stanton (D-AZ) stressed the importance of limiting water use as the Colorado River reservoirs continually reach critically low levels.
Although Stanton has demanded cutbacks from every state that relies on the river for its water supply, he adopted an especially urgent tone when addressing California.
His letter cited the advice of the Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Camille Touton, who called for the annual conservation of up to four million acre-feet of water in order to deal with the crisis. For their part, officials in Arizona and Nevada proposed a strategy designed to conserve two million acre-feet — but California shot down that proposal.
Stanton noted that “California receives by far the largest allocation of any basin state” but has taken an approach that is “the exact opposite of what is required of all of us during this climate crisis.”
As a result, he said that the state is endangering the natural resource as well as millions of people who rely on the river.
“For example, the state’s Colorado River hydrologic region water use hasn’t gone down — but actually increased nearly 41 percent in April 2022 compared to April 2020,” Stanton wrote.
Arizona has been leading the way in water conservation efforts. My AZ colleagues and I are urging the Dept. of the Interior to facilitate the negotiations between the Colorado River Basin States and urge states to make cuts in line with their water usage. https://t.co/EYA5ZUPrxc
— Congresswoman Debbie Lesko (@RepDLesko) September 7, 2022
Current projections show that California’s water use will exceed its allotted supply this year and require “additional water from Lake Mead above its allocation,” the letter added.
The Arizona lawmaker summed up his opinion of Newsom’s actions: “In a time of historic drought, this is reckless and unacceptable.”
With a serious drought impacting at least 70% of the American West, Touton has echoed Stanton’s call for immediate action by every affected state.
“The system is approaching a tipping point and, without action, we cannot protect the system and the millions of Americans who rely on this critical resource,” she said last month.
Of the seven basin states, Arizona’s required 21% allocation reduction is among the highest. Meanwhile, California has made no commitments to curb its water use over the course of the next year.