Post-2026 Colorado River Reservoir Operational Strategies for Lake Powell and Lake Mead

Several reservoir and water management decisional documents and agreements that govern the operation of Lake Powell and Lake Mead expire at the end of 2026. These include the 2007 Colorado River Interim Guidelines for Lower Basin Shortages and Coordinated Operations for Lake Powell and Lake Mead (2007 Interim Guidelines), the 2019 Drought Contingency Plans, as well as international agreements between the United States and Mexico pursuant to the United States-Mexico Treaty on Utilization of Waters of the Colorado and Tijuana Rivers and of the Rio Grande (1944 Water Treaty).

Pre-Scoping Comment Summary Report Webinar

Reclamation held a webinar on Monday, January 30th to provide information on the Post-2026 Pre-Scoping Comment Summary Report. The report summarizes the pre-scoping comments received in response to the Federal Register Notice published in June 2022.

Webinar Presentation
Pre-Scoping Comment Summary Report

Integrated Technical Education Workgroup

The Integrated Technical Education Workgroup (ITEW) was created to ensure that Colorado River partners have a common and accurate understanding of the underlying tools and concepts needed to meaningfully participate in the development of Post-2026 operating alternatives. The goal of the ITEW is to assist interested partners from across the Basin to gain a better understanding of the technical tools and approaches that we anticipate using in the Post-2026 Process. Participants include Tribes, States, municipalities, water and irrigation districts, non-governmental organizations, and other Federal agencies. Through the ITEW, Reclamation offers education about the models, data, and concepts used frequently in its studies, and shares information specifically about the technical framework that will support the Post-2026 Process.

ITEW Meetings

Kick-Off Meeting – December 7, 2022  

Presentation slides

June 2022 Federal Register Notice Request for Input

To help develop operating strategies for post-2026, Reclamation published a Federal Register Notice on June 24, 2022 asking for public input in two specific areas:

  • Suggested mechanisms for the anticipated NEPA process(es) to ensure that a wide range of Basin partners, stakeholders, and the general public can meaningfully engage and participate in the development of post-2026 operational strategies
  • Potential substantive elements and strategies that should be considered for post-2026 operations and considered in the anticipated upcoming NEPA process(es)

The purpose of the Notice was to receive input on the process and substantive elements for post-2026 operations prior to the anticipated initiation in early 2023 of a formal process pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Reclamation was particularly interested in receiving specific recommendations that recognize the need for robust policies that withstand a broad range of future conditions and are not based on a single set of assumptions about water supply and demand; the current and emerging operational challenges resulting from low runoff conditions; and the need for engagement and inclusivity, including all Basin tribes and Mexico, in Colorado River decision-making processes.

Summary of the Federal Register Notice Input Received

The comment period for the Federal Register Notice extended from June 24 through September 1, 2022. During this timeframe, Reclamation received 135 unique comment letters from concerned citizens, more than 1,964 submittals of the BlueRibbon Coalition “Fill Lake Powell – the Path to 3588 ft” form letter, and 55 in-depth stakeholder letters signed by 81 unique stakeholders.

Links to the stakeholder letters and the BlueRibbon Coalition form letter are available below, in alphabetical order, for viewing.

A link to the combined comment letters without attachments from concerned citizens is available below, followed by links to individual comment letters with associated attachments.Note, prior to posting the letters below, as a courtesy, Reclamation reached out to the concerned citizens who submitted input seeking confirmation to publicly post each letter.


Last Updated 2/6/23