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Arizona, Mexico Making Progress On New Colorado River Treaty

Colorado River
(KJZZ file photo)
The Colorado River through the Grand Canyon.

Arizona’s top water official says a new Colorado River agreement with Mexico could be close.
The bi-national negotiations are aimed at renewing an existing treaty called Minute 319, which is set to expire at the end of 2017. That outlines how the two countries divvy up the Colorado River and what happens in the case of a shortage. It also lets Mexico store water in Lake Mead and set aside some to revitalize dry portions of the river. Negotiators from both countries and Southwest states have been trying to get a deal done before the new Administration takes over.

Tom Buschatzke, head of the Arizona Department of Water Resources, said recently they’re making progress.

“We think there is a very good deal on the table, a lot of benefits for Arizona, a lot of benefits for Mexico, and we are working to finalize that as quickly as possible,” Buschatzke said.

Buschatzke said the treaty could include desalination projects for the two countries.


Will Stone grew up with the sounds of public radio. As a senior field correspondent, he strives to tell the same kind of powerful stories that got him into the business — whether that means trudging through some distant corner of the Sonoran Desert or uncovering an unknown injustice right down the street. Since joining the KJZZ newsroom in 2015, he has covered political scandals, fights over the future of energy, and efforts to care for some of Arizona’s most vulnerable communities. His pieces have also aired on national programs like Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Here & Now and Marketplace. Before coming to KJZZ, he reported for public radio stations in Nevada and Connecticut. Stone received his degree in English literature from Haverford College, where he also wrote about the arts and culture scene in Philadelphia. After graduating, he interned at NPR West in Culver City, California, where he learned from some of the network’s veteran reporters and editors. When he doesn’t have a mic in hand, Stone enjoys climbing mountains, running through his central Phoenix neighborhood and shamelessly promoting his cat, Barry.