Lower Colorado River Basin System Conservation and Efficiency Program


The Lower Colorado River Basin System Conservation and Efficiency Program (LC Conservation Program) is a part of the commitment made by the Department of the Interior (Department) on August 16, 2022, to address the drought crisis with prompt and responsive actions and investments to ensure the entire Colorado River Basin can function and support all who rely on it. Reclamation is using the best available science and actively collaborating with water users across the Colorado River Basin to determine best ways to meet the increased conservation need. The historic funding committed by the Biden-Harris Administration in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act provide resources for water management and conservation efforts in the Colorado River Basin and other basins experiencing comparable levels of long-term drought. The Department will continue to deploy these resources in the lower Colorado River Basin with this LC Conservation Program.

The LC Conservation Program is intended to provide new opportunities for system conservation in the lower Colorado River Basin that also lead to additional conservation and bridge the immediate need while moving toward improved system efficiency and more durable long-term solutions for the System. The Bureau of Reclamation is requesting proposals describing lower Colorado River Basin water conservation projects that can be implemented resulting in reductions in consumptive use of Colorado River water having a recent history of use. Lower Colorado River water delivery contract or entitlement holders and Central Arizona Project water delivery contract or entitlement holders are eligible to apply. The conserved Colorado River System water will not accrue to the benefit or use of any individual Colorado River water user.

Components and Status of the LC Conservation Program

The LC Conservation Program has three components:

  1. 1.a.) Proposals for system conservation resulting in additional volumes of water remaining in Lake Mead at a set price of: (Accepting Proposals: Due November 21, 2022)
    • One-year agreement: $330 per acre-foot
    • Two-year agreement: $365 per acre-foot
    • Three-year agreement: $400 per acre-foot

  2. 1.b.) Proposals describing lower Colorado River Basin water conservation plans that can be implemented resulting in reductions in consumptive use of lower Colorado River water having a recent history of use. (Accepting Proposals: Due November 21, 2022)

  3. 1.c.) Proposals for long-term system efficiency improvements that will result in multi-year system conservation. (Anticipated in early 2023)

Related Links

Biden-Harris Administration Announces New Steps for Drought Mitigation Funding from Inflation Reduction

On October 12, 2022, the Department announced new drought mitigation funding opportunities to improve and protect the long-term sustainability of the Colorado River System. The new LC Conservation Program, managed through Reclamation, will be funded through the Inflation Reduction Act, to improve water efficiency, and prevent the Colorado River System’s reservoirs from falling to critically low elevations that would threaten water deliveries and power production.

Funding Opportunity for Voluntary Participation in the Lower Colorado Conservation and Efficiency Program

By letter dated October 12, 2022, Reclamation announced the funding opportunity for voluntary participation in the new LC Conservation Program. Included in this letter is Enclosure 1, which describes the LC Conservation Program’s proposal requirements.

Report to Congress, August 2021 – Pilot Projects to Increase Colorado River System Water in Lake Powell and Lake Mead

In August of 2021, Reclamation submitted a report to congress that evaluated the effectiveness of the Pilot System Conservation Program (Pilot Program) projects and recommended to Congress whether the activities undertaken by the Pilot Program should be continued. The effectiveness of the Pilot Program was based on the following criteria: volumes of water conserved, pilot project cost, average cost per acre-foot, impact to Colorado River System storage, administrative and technical challenges, and water user/public perception and receptiveness to participate in the Pilot Program. The Pilot Program successfully demonstrated that voluntary, compensated water conservation projects can conserve water for Colorado River System storage to help mitigate the impacts of drought.

To access additional information on the Pilot Program, visit the Lower Colorado Region’s Programs and Activities webpage.

Contact Us

If you are interested in participating in the 1.a. or 1.b. component of the LC Conservation Program, submit your proposal electronically by November 21, 2022, to:

Daniel A. Bunk
Chief, Boulder Canyon Operations Office
Email: dbunk@usbr.gov

For additional questions or information, about the LC Conservation Program please email dbunk@usbr.gov

Last Updated: 11/29/22