WASHINGTON D.C., DC — Arizona Senator Mark Kelly is calling on federal officials to halt funding for California's Salton Sea project until the state gives up more of its Colorado River Water, a letter from the senator said Tuesday.
The letter, sent to the U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, said that the Department of the Interior needs to step in to secure the river's water and ensure that the 40 million people who rely on its waters don't go thirsty.
"We are out of time," Kelly said in his letter. "The longer the Department waits to press for an agreement in the Lower Basin, the more difficult this crisis will be to solve, leading only to tougher choices and litigation."
California, the largest user of Colorado River water, has been under fire from many other states that rely on the river for saying California would try and conserve 9% of its water allocation. In contrast, Arizona will give up 20% of its allocation starting in January.
Part of California's proposal was also contingent on the federal government partly funding a project to reduce dust pollution from the state's Salton Sea. Researchers and investigators of the Salton Sea Project have said the body of water has been causing negative impacts on local public health, evironment and economy.
The loss of Colorado River water in Arizona, however, could be disastrous for the entire nation. Farmers in Yuma, who mostly rely on the river's water, produce 80% of the nation's winter vegetable crop.
"I call on the Department to withhold federal funding for Salton Sea drought mitigation until California commits additional water for long-term conservation," Kelly's letter said. "I encourage the Department to outline scenarios for mandatory reductions, including accounting for evaporation losses from Colorado River contractors in California and strengthening limitations on California’s withdrawal of surplus water that it banks in Lake Mead."
Read Sen. Kelly's entire letter here:
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