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‘It’s going to get worse before it gets better’: Ducey on Arizona drought

Arizona has until Jan. 31 to sign onto a three-state plan to protect Lake Mead from reaching critical shortage levels.

PHOENIX — Gov. Doug Ducey said in his state of the state speech Monday that Arizona has just 17 days left to ratify the interstate agreement to conserve Colorado River water.

The Lower Basin Drought Contingency Plan is meant to protect Lake Mead—the primary storage reservoir that provides water to Arizona, California, Nevada and some of Mexico—from dropping to critical levels as the Colorado River continues to experience severe drought conditions.

According to the Arizona Department of Water Resources, Lake Mead has dropped by about 12 feet or more every year because of evaporation losses, the over allocation of water among the Lower Basin states and the allotment to Mexico.

RELATED: Arizona makes progress on Colorado River drought plan

“Here’s the bottom line: We’re in a 19-year drought. It’s going to get worse before it gets better,” Gov. Ducey said.

The Lower Basin DCP is designed to require Arizona, California and Nevada to make cutbacks in water consumption so Lake Mead recedes at a slower rate, according to the Arizona Department of Water Resources.

Representatives from water agencies across the state have been meeting bi-weekly to negotiate the details of the plan’s implementation since late July.

In December, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced that the states involved in the DCP have until Jan. 31 to sign on to the agreement.

Arizona needs a resolution by the legislature that would authorize the AZDWR director to sign the Lower Basin DCP.

The benefits of the plan will appear after some time, meaning the sooner we sign on to the plan, the more momentum we will have to prevent Lake Mead from reaching critically low levels, AZDWR says.

“No one stakeholder is going to get everything they want. Everyone is going to have to give,” Ducey said in his speech. “And I’ve been impressed by the willingness of those involved to do just that.”

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