April 02, 2019

Cortez Masto, McSally, Rosen, Sinema Unveil Historic Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) joined Senators Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and ten western senators to introduce the Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan Authorization Act. This bipartisan, bicameral legislation ensures the Drought Contingency Plan (DCP) devised by the seven Colorado River Basin states and Indian tribes can be implemented without delay while respecting environmental protections.

“I applaud the Colorado River Basin States for coming together to address the ongoing threat of drought to our states’ economy, public safety and the daily lives of millions,” said Senator Cortez Masto. “I look forward to working together with my colleagues to pass this bipartisan legislation that protects the Colorado River, should a shortage be declared, and supports and protects our urban areas, agricultural and grazing lands, and recreational as well as tourism economies. I’ll do all I can in the Senate to collaborate with my western state colleagues to protect Lake Mead, the Colorado River and the water resources of those who live in Nevada and across the west.”

“The Drought Contingency Plan is a landmark grassroots effort that is a state-driven solution to ensure that we continue to provide drinking water to 40 million Americans, irrigation for 5.5 million acres of farmland and more than 4,000 megawatts of carbon-free hydropower to communities across the West,” said Senator McSally. “Congratulations to all the states for their hard work. I am honored to lead this bipartisan DCP legislation and will work to get it urgently signed into law. ”

“Water is one of our most precious resources – especially for Western states like Nevada,” said Senator Rosen. “I was proud to see so many local stakeholders come to the table to negotiate a sustainable and historic conservation plan. This legislation will codify this agreement, allowing all of the Colorado River Basin states to continue to have access to water for future generations.”

“I'm proud to have worked with local stakeholders and Senate colleagues to keep the Drought Contingency Plan on track and ensure Congressional leaders know how important the agreement is to Arizona,” said Senator Sinema. “I’ll keep working across the aisle to pass our legislation and help secure Arizona’s water future.”

In addition to Senators Cortez Masto, McSally, Rosen and Sinema, the legislation is co-sponsored by all fourteen Senators from the Colorado River Basin, including U.S. Senators Michael B. Enzi (R-Wyo.), Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and John Barrasso (R-Wyo.).


The Colorado River Basin drains more than 246,000 square miles across seven states and Mexico. More than 40 million people in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming depend on the river for drinking water, farming irrigation and hydropower. Since 2000, the Colorado River has experienced its most severe drought in 100 years of record keeping and what may be the one of the driest periods in the last 1,200 years, according to paleo-records.

The Drought Contingency Plan – otherwise known as the DCP – was negotiated between the seven Colorado River Basin States and Indian tribes to respond to this prolonged drought. It is designed to protect Lakes Mead and Powell from reaching certain critical water elevations that would trigger severe water supply reductions and hydropower impacts, including the risk of reaching crises levels where operational control of the Colorado River System is lost.

Senator Cortez Masto is the Ranking Member on the Subcommittee on Water & Power of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, whose jurisdiction includes oversight and legislative responsibilities for the Colorado River, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, impacts on water resources and hydroelectric power.