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Reclamation, Metropolitan Water District Sign Agreement for 'Intentionally Created Surplus' Water Demonstration Program at Lake Mead

Media Contact: Bob Walsh , (702) 293-8421
Bob Muir, Metropolitan Water District ,

For Release: June 01, 2006

The Bureau of Reclamation today signed an agreement with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (Metropolitan) for a demonstration program that will help determine if creating "surplus" water in Lake Mead can be used as a long-term water management tool on the lower Colorado River.

This demonstration program will allow Metropolitan to leave water in Lake Mead in 2006 and 2007 that the district would otherwise use. This water - called "Intentionally Created Surplus" or "ICS" water - is defined as water that has been conserved through an extraordinary conservation measure, such as land fallowing.

Metropolitan plans to create 50,000 acre-feet of ICS water in 2006. To accomplish this, Metropolitan will use water that has been conserved through an existing land management, crop rotation and water supply program with Palo Verde Irrigation District near Blythe, California. Metropolitan is entitled to divert and use the water conserved through this program in its six-county Southern California service area. To create the ICS water, Metropolitan will leave up to 50,000 acre-feet of this conserved water in Lake Mead instead of using it this year.

In 2007, Metropolitan will be allowed to create up to 200,000 acre-feet of ICS water in Lake Mead; that water would come from a variety of programs being implemented in California to conserve Colorado River water. A separate agreement will be required to allow Metropolitan to recover the ICS water in subsequent years. "This demonstration program has several benefits," said Bob Johnson, Regional Director for Reclamation's Lower Colorado Region. "For example, five percent of the ICS water will be dedicated to the Colorado River system, providing a water supply benefit to all Lower Basin water users. The program also will augment the Colorado River system storage, and help avoid, delay or reduce the severity of a shortage in the Lower Colorado River Basin."

Metropolitan General Manager Jeff Kightlinger said the demonstration project could serve as a model for future programs that would help improve Metropolitan's dry-year supply reliability without building costly infrastructure.

"The true significance of this demonstration program is that the benefits are spread among all Colorado River users," Kightlinger said. "In addition to providing supply, power generation and recreational benefits, this innovative approach offers a creative solution that could delay or prevent shortage conditions in the future for all Basin states."

Other terms of the agreement include:

  • If conditions change during the year because of unforeseen circumstances, Metropolitan may request a modification of its water order to reduce the amount of ICS water created;
  • If Reclamation has to release water from Hoover Dam for flood control purposes, ICS water will be the first water to be released. ICS water will also be subject to an annual evaporation loss.

The full text of this agreement is available on Reclamation's web site, at

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