Programs and Activities

Colorado River Interim Guidelines for
Lower Basin Shortages and Coordinated Operations
for Lake Powell and Lake Mead

Secretary Kempthorne Signs Historic Decision For New Colorado River Management Strategies - On Dec 13, 2007 the Secretary of the Interior signed an historic decision that will implement innovative strategies for Colorado River management, charting a water management course for the future. Click these links to see his remarks and photos of the event.

More documents related to this action, including the Affirmation Document among the 7 Basin StatesImplementing Agreements, the Biological Opinion, and more are available on the Documents page of this site.

In May 2005, the Secretary of the Interior (Secretary) directed Reclamation to develop additional strategies for improving coordinated management of the reservoirs of the Colorado River system. In response, Reclamation initiated a public process to develop and adopt interim operational guidelines that can be used to address the operations of Lake Powell and Lake Mead during drought and low reservoir conditions.

Each year, the Secretary is required to declare the Colorado River water supply availability conditions for the Lower Basin States in terms of Normal, Surplus, or Shortage. While regulations and operations criteria have been developed for Normal and Surplus conditions, detailed guidelines for a water supply shortage have never been established. The development of these guidelines has been spurred by the current multi-year drought, decreasing system storage, and growing demands for Colorado River water.

By developing additional operational guidelines, the Secretary will be able to better manage and operate the key Colorado River reservoirs while also providing United States Colorado River water users and managers of the Colorado River Basin -- particularly those in the Lower Division states of Arizona, California and Nevada -- a greater degree of certainty with respect to the amount of annual water deliveries in future years, particularly under drought and low reservoir conditions. The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process provides the opportunity to develop the information needed to analyze and consider trade-offs between the frequency and magnitude of shortages, and to describe potential effects on water shortage in Lake Powell and Lake Mead, and on water supplies, power production, recreation and other environmental resources.

Reclamation has implemented a public participation program to inform and involve potentially affected agencies and communities, and has conducted numerous meetings to help prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) for this effort. A Draft EIS was released at the end of February 2007. A Final EIS was published November 2007, and a Record of Decision was signed December 2007.

Panoramic view of Hoover Dam and Lake Mead


Last Updated: 6/5/15