Environment

Sen. Romney introduces legislation to extend Colorado River conservation program

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Before he leaves office in November, Senator Mitt Romney is still working to pass legislation he believes will benefit Utahns, as the Utah Senator recently introduced legislation to extend the Colorado River system conservation pilot program.

The bipartisan legislation, titled the Colorado River Basin System Conservation Extension Act, was co-introduced with Senators John Hickenlooper (D-CO), John Barrasso (R-WY), Michael Bennet (D-CO), and Cynthia Lummis (R-WY).

The proposed legislation aims to prolong the system conservation pilot program until 2026, allowing Colorado River Basin states, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, and stakeholders to further deliberate on future water management strategies beyond the expiration of operational rules in 2026.

“Over the last several years, the System Conservation Pilot Program (SCCP) has proven successful in increasing water efficiency and mitigating the impacts of historic drought,” said Senator Romney.

“Reauthorizing this important program will encourage water conservation in Lake Powell and other bodies of water in the Upper Colorado River Basin.”

Launched in 2023, the SCCP offers a chance for temporary, voluntary, and compensated reductions in the consumptive use of agricultural, municipal, or industrial water within the Upper Colorado River Basin.

The Upper Colorado River Commission oversees SCPP implementation across Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, and New Mexico, while the Colorado River Authority of Utah manages SCPP specifically within Utah.

Funding for the SCPP comes from allocations under the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 to the Bureau of Reclamation.

The Senators from Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah hope to maintain the pilot program to conserve water in the Colorado River.

“Wyoming, along with other Colorado River Basin states, have worked together to conserve water in the Colorado River system. Programs like the System Conservation Pilot Project are critical to helping address drought issues across these states,” said Senator Barrasso.

“Our bipartisan legislation extends this program and provides our farmers and ranchers with resources to conserve water in the Colorado River and the lakes they depend on.”

In 2024, the SCPP prioritized projects aimed at exploring the feasibility of Demand Management and supporting innovations in local water conservation to enhance resilience.

In 2024, the SCCP implemented 31 projects in Utah, 46 in Colorado, 32 in Wyoming, and 1 in New Mexico.

“The West continues to lead the nation in our cutting-edge water conservation and management practices,” said Senator Lummis.

“Our ability to maintain that reputation hinges on preserving proven policies that mitigate drought threats, and I am excited to partner with my colleagues to protect Wyoming communities and ranchers from droughts by continuing this successful program.”

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