On Drought and the "Drought Contingency Plan"

A conversation with Water Resources Dir. Buschatzke about the struggle to save Lake Mead
February 16, 2017

The negotiations to find an equitable way to stabilize the Colorado River system and, specifically, Lake Mead have been underway for nearly four years now.

In some respects, the parties at the table – including representatives of California, Nevada, the federal government and Arizona – largely have found common ground, in principle.

In other respects -- notably achieving agreement among the many stakeholders with longstanding, legal claims to water from the Colorado system, as well as the big service providers -- a resolution is far less clear.

Tom Buschatzke, director of the Arizona Department of Water Resources, sat down recently to discuss the current status of the much-debated “Drought Contingency Plan” to stabilize Lake Mead, which continues dropping toward critical water levels each year, despite the occasional wet winter, such as this current one.

He also discussed – and defined – the plan that has become known as “DCP Plus” – a plan to permanently assure that no more water is allocated from Lake Mead than flows into it.

As Buschatzke describes, the health of the Colorado River system is critical to Arizona’s future. The system now supplies 41 percent of the state’s water supplies, providing an economic and societal lifeline to millions of residents.

Just what does it take for everyone to get to “yes” in the debate over a fair and equitable Drought Contingency Plan?

In this podcast, Director Buschatzke shares his thoughts on that and much more involving the state’s water resources.

As the director indicates, he remains hopeful. But, as he also makes plain, “hope” is not the same as having a plan.