The Colorado River Indian Tribes (CRIT) was recognized by the Central Arizona Project (CAP) for signing the System Conservation Agreement with the State of Arizona and the crucial role of the Tribes in drought relief.
To help Arizona fulfill its Drought Contingency Plan obligations, CRIT has pledged to fallow farmland in order to contribute 150,000 acre-feet over three years to help maintain water levels in Lake Mead. CRIT will be paid $38 million as compensation for fallowing 10,000 acres of farm land to make this water available as system conservation.
CRIT Tribal Chairman Dennis Patch and council members were in attendance at the CAP Board of Directors meeting Thursday in Phoenix.
“CRIT is committed to saving the life of the Colorado River by contributing real water, not water that exists only on paper,” Patch said. “Our efforts will help maintain water levels in Lake Mead, which is critical to the DCP.”
Vice Chairman Keith Moses said, “This agreement reaffirms CRIT’s rights to Colorado River water and ensures we are fairly compensated.”
The System Conservation Agreement among the CAP, the State of Arizona, the Bureau of Reclamation and CRIT was recently signed, representing a major step in drought relief for Arizona. In April, the basin-wide Drought Contingency Plan was signed into law.
In January, CRIT voters approved a measure that permits the Tribe to lease a portion of its Colorado River entitlement. Federal legislation to permit leasing CRIT water would provide further drought relief for Arizona and generate economic opportunities for CRIT and its people.
CRIT has the first priority decreed water right to divert 719,248 acre-feet per year to serve lands in both Arizona and California. System inefficiencies in the BIA Colorado River Irrigation Project, and a lack of infrastructure for agriculture development prevent the Tribes from fully utilizing its water.