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).

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.

Although the Federal Register Notice indicated any received input may be made publicly available, as a courtesy, Reclamation is in the process of reaching out to the 135 citizens who submitted input seeking confirmation to publicly post each letter.


Last Updated 9/20/22