California offers to reduce water use to help drought-stricken Colorado River

California has offered reduce its water use from the Colorado River, Lake Mead, and Lake Powell.

In an agreement with Arizona and Nevada, the Golden State will cut roughly 10% of its current water allocation. State officials said they are willing to do this in exchange for federal money to help cities, farmers, and Native American Tribes.

The $1.2 billion plan, a potential breakthrough in a year-long stalemate, would conserve an additional 3 million acre-feet of water through 2026, when current guidelines for how the river is shared expire. About half the cuts would come by the end of 2024. That’s less than what federal officials said last year would be needed to stave off crisis in the river but still marks a notable step in long and difficult negotiations between the three states.

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"It is a critically important stopgap as we're dealing with a near Armageddon state of affairs," said Stanford University water researcher Felicia Marcus. "But it is just a stopgap, for the next few years, in order to buy us the time for there to be a more thoughtful reassessment of the whole way we've managed the river."

Officials said the agreement buys a little time but if more dry years are ahead, the overall problem won't be solved.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.