Congress approves Colorado River drought plan

Federal protections for Salton Sea remain

0409 drought plan

WASHINGTON, D.C. - A drought plan for the Colorado River has cleared its final hurdle and will leave in place federal protection for the Salton Sea with unanimous approval by Congress Monday.

The bill is called the Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan Authorization Act and is aimed at protecting water users from deep losses and keeping reservoirs and the river healthy. If enacted, the plan will spread the effects of expected cutbacks on the river and protect the levels of Lake Mead and Lake Powell, the river's two largest reservoirs.

This will involve seven states along the Colorado River basin including California.

There were concerns the initial drafts of the bill would waive federal environmental regulations critical to protecting the Salton Sea from reduced inflows. The bill that passed the house included new language clarifying that federal environmental protections will remain in place.

This language came after Congressman Dr. Raul Ruiz gave a floor speech last month wanting the drought plan to include those protections.

“By fighting to protect the Salton Sea, I am fighting for the health of local children, seniors, and families,” said Dr. Ruiz. “I am proud to have successfully advocated for reforms to the Drought Contingency Plan legislation that preserve environmental protections and defend water flow to the Salton Sea. This bill’s passage was a key victory for our local communities, protecting our access to water while addressing the environmental and public health crisis at the Salton Sea. I will never stop working to protect the Salton Sea, our local environment, and the health of families across our region.”

The bill now heads to the desk of president trump for his signature in order to become law.

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