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States reach compromise over California's use of Colorado River
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The long-standing conflict over Southern California's overuse of Colorado River water may be near an end.
Officials from the seven states that tap the Colorado River for water planned to present a compromise to U.S. Interior Department officials Thursday that provides California a "soft landing" as it reduces its river consumption over the next 15 years.
"It's a significant event that returns the states to an era of cooperation," said Jan Matusak, principal engineer for the Metropolitan Water District, which owns the aqueduct that provides Colorado River water to 16 million Southern Californians.
MESSAGE BOARD Environmental issues California for years has exceeded, by about 800,000 acre-feet, the 4.4 million acre-feet of Colorado River water it's allotted annually under a 1922 agreement. An acre-foot is about 326,000 gallons, or enough to serve a family of four for a year.
California's overuse has become a more critical issue as Arizona and Nevada have grown closer to using their entire allotments because of their growing populations. And with years of above-average water levels in the river expected to soon give way to years of drought, the conflict could intensify without an agreement.
"All of the states recognize that a collision could occur soon if this issue isn't addressed," Deputy Interior Secretary David Hayes said Wednesday.
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