Deadline Jan. 31 to finalize Colorado River drought contingency plans

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FILE – In this July 28, 2014, file photo, lightning strikes over Lake Mead near Hoover Dam that impounds Colorado River water at the Lake Mead National Recreation Area in Arizona. With drought continuing and reservoirs shrinking, several Southwestern U.S. states that depend on the Colorado River had been expected to ink a crucial share-the-pain […]

 Federal water managers are setting a Jan. 31 deadline for the seven Southwestern states that depend on the Colorado River to finalize unprecedented voluntary drought contingency plans they expect to have to enact in 2020.

Otherwise, top U.S. water official Brenda Burman says the federal government will announce in August the unspecified water restrictions it will impose on users in California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.

The river and the huge Lake Powell and Lake Mead reservoirs provide drinking water to 40 million people and irrigation for crops in arid parts of the U.S. and Mexico.

Most states met Burman’s goal to reach agreements on plans to use less water.

Burman told a water users conference in Las Vegas that California and Arizona are the holdouts.

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