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Reclamation finalizes SEIS process to address drought and climate impacts on Glen Canyon Dam and Hoover Dam

Interior Department announced earlier this year that historic investments led to record water savings, helped stave off immediate collapse of Colorado River system

Media Contact: Upper Colorado Basin
Lower Colorado Basin
For Release: May 9, 2024
Colorado River SEIS Record of Decision is finalized by the Bureau of Reclamation Colorado River SEIS Record of Decision is finalized by the Bureau of Reclamation

WASHINGTON – The Bureau of Reclamation today finalized its process to protect the short-term stability and sustainability of the Colorado River System by signing the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for Near-term Colorado River Operations Record of Decision. The Department of the Interior released the final SEIS in March 2024.

Reclamation initiated the supplemental environmental impact statement to protect Glen Canyon Dam and Hoover Dam operations, system integrity, and public health and safety. This supplemental guidance will be effective through 2026 – at which point the existing 2007 Interim Guidelines and the 2019 Drought Contingency Plans expire. This record of decision is a substantial milestone in the ongoing efforts to address water scarcity, the ongoing drought, and climate change challenges in the Colorado River Basin.

Reclamation’s action selected in this record of decision is the preferred alternative that the Department identified in March 2024, which will yield at least 3 million acre-feet of system water conservation savings through the end of 2026, coinciding with the expiration of the current guidelines, and provides additional tools to manage dry hydrology. Selection of the preferred alternative was made possible through Reclamation’s collaborative efforts including those with the seven basin states, 30 basin Tribes, water managers, farmers and irrigators, municipalities, power contractors, non-governmental organizations, and other partners and stakeholders, and underpinned by historic water conservation enabled by President Biden’s Investing in America agenda.

President Biden’s Investing in America agenda is integral to the efforts to increase near-term water conservation, build long term system efficiency, and prevent the Colorado River System’s reservoirs from falling to critically low elevations which would threaten water deliveries and power production. Through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, Reclamation is investing another $8.3 billion over five years for water infrastructure projects, including water purification and reuse, water storage and conveyance, desalination and dam safety. Since the Law’s signing, the Department has provided more than $2.9 billion to fund 425 projects, including $825 million for 131 aging infrastructure projects; $377 million to 231 WaterSMART grants; $382 million for 12 water storage and conveyance projects; and $698 million to seven rural water projects. The Inflation Reduction Act also provides $4.6 billion to address the historic drought across the West – including for system conservation agreements throughout the Colorado River Basin.

As described in the previously announced final SEIS, key information in today’s record of decision includes:

  1. System Water Conservation: The preferred alternative will conserve at least 3 million acre-feet of system water through 2026. The results of the supplemental environmental impact statement modeling indicate that the risk of reaching critical elevations at Lake Powell and Lake Mead has been reduced substantially.
  2. Lake Powell Releases: The preferred alternative allows for reducing annual releases from Lake Powell to 6 million acre-feet if the reservoir is projected to fall below 3,500 feet over the subsequent 12 months. This adaptive approach ensures the long-term integrity of the system.
  3. Complementary Measures: The preferred alternative builds upon the existing 2007 Interim Guidelines, incorporating additional strategies to mitigate shortages and contributions under the 2019 Drought Contingency Plans.


The short-term supplemental environmental impact statement process is separate from the ongoing long-term efforts to protect the Colorado River Basin after current guidelines expire in 2026. The post-2026 process currently underway is working to develop new guidelines that will replace several reservoir and water management decisional documents and agreements that govern the operation of Colorado River facilities and management of the Colorado River that are scheduled to expire at the end of 2026.  

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The Bureau of Reclamation is a federal agency under the U.S. Department of the Interior and is the nation's largest wholesale water supplier and second largest producer of hydroelectric power. Its facilities also provide substantial flood control, recreation opportunities, and environmental benefits.  Visit our website at and follow us on Twitter @usbr.

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