WASHINGTON — Seven US states have agreed to a consensus-based proposal that works to conserve at least 3 million acre-feet of water in the Colorado River Basin through the end of 2026.

The US Department of the Interior said 2.3 million acre-feet of those conservation savings will be compensated through funding from the Inflation Reduction Act. In their consensus proposal, the Lower Basin states — California, Arizona and Nevada — said they would voluntarily achieve the remaining conservation efforts without compensation.

The first 1.5 million acre-feet will be conserved by the end of 2024, the Lower Basin states said.

The conservation deal comes after a historic drought, low reservoirs and low-runoff conditions in the Colorado River Basin.

California, Arizona, Nevada, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah and New Mexico all depend on the Colorado River Basin for basic needs such as drinking water and electricity. According to Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, 40 million people are directly reliant on the Colorado River system.

“I commend our partners in the seven Basin states who have demonstrated leadership and unity of purpose in developing this consensus-based approach to achieve the substantial water conservation necessary to sustain the Colorado River System through 2026,” said Deputy Interior Secretary Tommy Beaudreau.

In light of the Basin states’ proposal, the US Department of Interior temporarily withdrew a draft of the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS), which was published last month. The department plans on reviewing the states’ proposal before publishing an updated SEIS draft and opening the draft up for a comment period. The department said it will finalize the SEIS process later this year.

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