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Reclamation announces a public opportunity: prepare prescoping comments to develop new operating criteria for the Colorado River Basin

June 23, 2022
by John S. Weisheit

The thick red line reflects the last 22-years (actual) and then Reclamation's projection to 2026
The thick red line reflects the last 22-years (actual) and then Reclamation's projection to 2026

The Comment Period for Prescoping is now closed.


Note: Save yourself some time and read the joint letter from the seven states. What the states are proposing is another mimialist approach at a time when system collapse is the likely outcome. Their proposal will arrive in 2023 after the formal public scoping proces is completed and their choices and promises will once again be half-hearted and anything but sustainable. (Read: The states agreement of 2006 and its many broken promises as of 2022.)
Note: The list below also includes comment letters specific to the Drought Response Operations Agreement (DROA) and since July of 2022.
See: 1990 - Agency Recalcitrance and Evasion Regarding Compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act Relating to Glen Canyon Dam Operations: A Documented Need for Congressional Intervention. Lippman.

There are many more and they will be posted soon.



Submit electronically to: CRB-info@usbr.gov

Questions can be addressed to:
Carly Jerla
Bureau of Reclamation
Senior Water Resources Program Manager
(303) 517-1160
eMail: cjerla@usbr.gov


Reclamation's press release is HERE & archived here

For Release: June 23, 2022
Peter South <psoeth@usbr.gov>
eMail: Peter Soeth



A MUST READ: June 24, 2022 - By Lexi Peery for KUER: Feds call for public input on how to manage the strained Colorado River. A justified public position to improve the management of the Colorado River Basin would include the ask that the seven governor's terminate the employment of water managers who are: (1) skeptical of the value of participation from voters, taxpayers and ratepayers; 2) managers who blame the other states for their water shortage problems. The replacements should be the young people who represent the new families of a compromised nation.

The formative failures of the Colorado River Compact from the seven states include: (1) the negotiated compromise to split this river basin into two divisions was the first big mistake, because it embedded competition rather than cooperation; (2) instituting inflated water allocations was the second big mistake, because it embedded misinformation and exaggerations; (3) not deducting evaporation and seepage losses at the points of diversion was the third big mistake, because it embedded overconsumption; (4) delaying and excluding negotiations with the sovereign tribes and Mexico was the fourth mistake, because it embedded inequity; (5) the inability to self-correct these problems has become demoralizing, because it created misleading distractions and false starts that waste time and resources.

The 2022 Federal Register Notice is archived HERE

  • "The Colorado River Basin provides essential water supplies to approximately 40 million people, nearly 5.5 million acres of agricultural lands, and habitat for ecological resources across the Southwestern United States and Northwestern Mexico. The limited water supplies of the Colorado River are declining and the Colorado River Basin is currently experiencing a prolonged period of drought and record-low runoff conditions resulting in historically low reservoir levels at Lake Powell and Lake Mead. The period from 2000 through 2022 is the driest 23-year period in more than a century and one of the driest periods in the last 1,200 years. Absent a change in hydrologic conditions, water use patterns, or both, Colorado River reservoirs will continue to decline to critically low elevations threatening essential water supplies across nine states in the United States and the Republic of Mexico (Mexico). It is foreseeable that without appropriate responsive actions and under a continuation of recent hydrologic trends, major Colorado River reservoirs could continue to decline to “dead pool” — elevations at which water cannot be regularly released from a reservoir — in coming years. ...  The current unprecedented drought and low-runoff conditions are anticipated to persist and potentially worsen as a result of a number of factors, including increasing temperatures in the Basin, and other effects of climate change."

The 2007 Record of Decision is archived HERE

  • "The Colorado River Basin (Basin) is in the eighth year of drought – the worst eight year period in over a century of continuous recordkeeping. Reservoir elevations have declined over this period and the duration of this ongoing, historic drought is unknown. This is the first long-term drought in the modern history of the Colorado River, although climate experts and scientists suggest droughts of this severity have occurred in the past and are likely to occur in the future. The Colorado River provides water to two nations, and to users within seven western states. With over 27 million people relying on the Colorado River for drinking water in the United States, and over 3.5 million acres of farmland in production in the Basin, the Colorado River is the single most important natural resource in the Southwest."
On The Colorado (OTC, this website)
July, 2021 - our preparations for this federal announcement:
  • Click here for Part One A: By date - News and Opinion
  • Click here for Part One B: By subject - News and Opinion
  • Click here for Part Two: Narratives - Old and New.
  • Click here for Part Three: The Physical and Social Sciences
  • Click here for Part Four: Solutions - Climate Adaptation, Sustainibility and Resilence.

Sample Comment Letters archived on OTC


Prescoping Comments are due: September 1, 2022 (10 weeks)


Reclamation's press release is HERE (archived)

For Release: June 23, 2022

eMail: Peter Soeth
Peter South <psoeth@usbr.gov>

Reclamation welcomes public input on development of future Colorado River operations during historic drought.

Federal Register notice seeks comment on meaningful participation ideas and operational strategies to consider when updating key reservoir and water management decisions and agreements

WASHINGTON – The Bureau of Reclamation today published a Federal Register notice to assist in its efforts to develop future Colorado River operating provisions. Several decisional documents and agreements that govern the operation of crucial Colorado River facilities, Lake Powell and Lake Mead, and the management of Colorado River water will expire at the end of 2026. The notice seeks specific input on how to foster meaningful participation by all stakeholders in preparation for beginning the National Environmental Policy Act process to develop post-2026 operating approaches for the Colorado River, and operating strategies to address post-2026.

"In my testimony last week, I stressed the need for a quick response and action from across the basin to reduce water use and protect the sustainability of the Colorado River system," said Commissioner Camille Calimlim Touton. "As we focus on these short-term response actions, we also clearly recognize the importance of simultaneously planning for the longer-term to stabilize our reservoirs before we face an even larger crisis."

The publication of this notice is not the start of the NEPA process but is a tool to seek input and encourage brainstorming and input before the formal initiation of the NEPA process.  Reclamation is targeting an early 2023 start for the NEPA process to develop post-2026 operating guidelines.

"We want to hear from everyone who has a stake in this basin. We intend to develop our next operating rules in an inclusive, transparent manner, relying on the best available science," said Senior Water Resources Program Manager Carly Jerla. “We’re seeking input to foster a meaningful participation of Colorado River partners and stakeholders and to gather ideas and strategies for the post-2026 operations that should also be considered in the NEPA process."

The notice asks for specific suggestions on the process and the substance of how best to analyze future operations and what those operations should include. It also highlights the changing circumstances in the Colorado River Basin since 2007, including declining hydrology, drought and low-runoff conditions impacted by a warmer, changing climate, inclusivity in Colorado River decision-making and the need for continued operational alignment and partnership with the Republic of Mexico.

Specific documents and agreements that expire at the end of 2026 include the December 2007 Colorado River Interim Guidelines for Lower Basin Shortages and Coordinated Operations for Lake Powell and Lake Mead, among other essential management documents, both within the United States as well as international agreements between the United States and Mexico under the 1944 Water Treaty.
The Colorado River Basin is experiencing a 22-year drought and low runoff conditions, and reservoirs within the basin are at historic low levels. There are extensive impacts throughout the Colorado River Basin, including water for homes and crops to the generation ofelectricity that supports everything we do.

While continuing to work with its partners to mitigate the impacts of this 22-year drought, Reclamation is focused on the next phase of Colorado River operational decision-making.

To help explain the process and answer questions, Reclamation is hosting two webinars:


July 12, 2022 @ 10:00 am (Mountain)
Click here to join the meeting
Or call in (audio only)
+1 719-733-3211
Phone Conference ID: 100 899 510#

July 14, 2022 @ 10:00 am (Mountain)
Join on your computer or mobile app
Click here to join the meeting
Or call in (audio only)
+1 202-640-1187
Phone Conference ID: 795 497 392#

The public input period ends September 1, 2022.
To learn more about the operations on the Colorado River, please visit https://www.usbr.gov/ColoradoRiverBasin/.

About Reclamation: The Bureau of Reclamation is a federal agency under the U.S. Department of the Interior and is the nation's largest wholesale water supplier and second largest producer of hydroelectric power. Our facilities also provide substantial flood control, recreation opportunities, and environmental benefits.

Prescoping for new operational guidelines


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