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Planning for Water Security: Comparison of Practices in the Colorado River Basin to Australia

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The Colorado River system is the most significant in the United States in terms of population served and economic impact of water supply. It is a critical supply for 35 million people in the seven southwestern states of the United States. A multi-year drought has reduced available water supplies and demonstrated the need for collaborative and imaginative solutions to management of this invaluable resource. In December 2007, an historic shortage agreement among the states and the Federal government specified how the major system reservoirs were to be operated and how shortages were to be shared. This agreement also established new legal and institutional measures that allow a greater degree of cooperation on water projects. Underlying the increased cooperation among the states and the various water users is recognition of the need to develop water supplies that are resilient to climate change. Among the more significant projects being planned for implementation are the Lake Powell pipeline in Utah, the Navajo-Gallup project in New Mexico and Arizona, water banking projects in Arizona and California, the Drop 2 storage structure in Southern California, and new use of the Yuma Desalting Plant.

The Colorado River system is compared to its most similar global counterparts, the Murray-Darling Basin in Australia and the water supply system of the Water Corporation of Western Australia.
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Keywords: Water resources; climate change; planning; sustainability; water supply

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2010-01-01

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