Reclamation Seeks Comment on Proposed Plan to Address Non-Contract Water Use from the Lower Colorado River

Media Contact: Robert Walsh , 702-293-8421

For Release: September 21, 2006

The Bureau of Reclamation is proposing to develop a "rule" to address and reduce the use of Colorado River water in the lower Colorado River basin by those who do not have a Colorado River delivery contract or other form of legal entitlement for that water.

All U.S. entities or persons who use lower Colorado River water must have either a contract with the Secretary of the Interior, an entitlement based on a 1964 U.S. Supreme Court Decree, or a federal reservation of such water. The diversion or consumptive use of water from the lower Colorado River without a contract or other form of entitlement is considered to be a non-contract use.

Reclamation estimates that about 10,000 acre-feet of water is used each year by non-contract users. Most of this water is withdrawn from wells located within the aquifer adjacent to the river, or pumped directly from the river.

"Non-contract use depletes the Colorado River supply and takes water that would otherwise be available to holders of water delivery contracts or other entitlements," said Jayne Harkins, Deputy Regional Director for Reclamation's Lower Colorado Region.

"We expect this rule will establish procedures we would follow to determine potential non-contract use, including notice and administrative appeal procedures for any entity or individual identified as a non-contract user. It is also expected to include provisions that would legalize the non-contract use, where possible, or to require that non-contract users cease the use of the water if that is not possible," she added.

A Federal Register Notice detailing the proposed rulemaking action is available for viewing or downloading on Reclamation's web site at

Comments on this proposed rulemaking should be submitted to Reclamation on or before October 17, and should be identified by the number 1006-AA50. Comments can be submitted by several methods:

* Through the Federal rulemaking portal, Follow the instructions for submitting comments.

* Directly to Reclamation by e-mail at

* By faxogram to: (702) 293-8042, attention: Ms. Margot Selig.

* By regular mail, addressed to: Regional Director, Lower Colorado Region, Attention: Ms. Margot Selig, Bureau of Reclamation, P.O. Box 61470, Boulder City, NV 89006.

# # #

Reclamation is the largest wholesale water supplier and the second largest producer of hydroelectric power in the United States, with operations and facilities in the 17 Western States. Its facilities also provide substantial flood control, recreation, and fish and wildlife benefits. Visit our website at and follow us on Twitter @USBR.