Lower Colorado River:
Proposed Drop 2 Storage Reservoir Project
On February 15, 2007, the Pacific Institute joined several other NGOs in submitting comments (PDF) on the Bureau of Reclamation’s proposed Drop 2 Storage Reservoir Project (for more information on Reclamation’s proposed project, click here). The proposed project would build a total of 8,000 acre-feet of new, re-regulatory storage adjacent to the All-American Canal, just downstream of the turnout of the Coachella Canal.
The purpose of the project is to reduce the volume of water delivered to Mexico at Morelos Dam in excess of the U.S.’s obligations under the 1944 Treaty. To date, these over-deliveries have sustained the remnant Colorado River delta; reducing these flows could decrease the magnitude of flow below Morelos Dam by a 87%. Using Reclamation’s data, we estimate that had the proposed project been in place, there would have been no flow at all below Morelos Dam for 97% of the days from 2000 through 2004.
While we agree that increasing the efficiency of water deliveries is an important objective, we strongly believe that the invaluable riparian habitat in the Colorado River delta below Morelos Dam must be protected.
For a large number of reasons described in our comment letter, we believe that Reclamation’s environmental assessment is inadequate and must be redone.
We also suggested several interim measures to protect the limitrophe, as we continue to craft long-term solutions to the delta’s pressing need for water. These interim solutions include:
- dedicating a portion of the water conserved by the proposed project to instream flows in the limitrophe;
- implementing a robust surface and groundwater monitoring program, in conjunction with vegetation and wildlife surveys;
- federal and state support for limitrophe restoration projects; and
- locating the proposed project in the Laguna Reach of the Colorado River (downstream of Imperial Dam), in conjunction with a restoration of that reach of the river, to minimize evaporative losses and maximize ecological benefits.