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Colorado River Indian Tribes' chairwoman hopes Lake Powell shortages will spur legislation

Coverage of tribal natural resources is supported in part by Catena Foundation

On Tuesday, the Bureau of Reclamation announced two drought mitigation measures to ensure the water level at Lake Powell doesn’t dip below what’s required to generate electricity. It’s a significant move one tribe in Arizona hopes will push other water legislation forward.

The Bureau of Reclamation says to prevent further depletion, it will add more water to Lake Powell from upstream, and hold some back from getting released downstream.

The Colorado River Indian Tribes, or CRIT, is a single tribal nation situated along the river’s banks near Parker. Like other Arizona tribes, it has senior rights to the river’s Arizona shares. At the end of last year, Sen. Mark Kelly introduced a bill that would allow the tribe to lease some of that water to other parts of the state. 

"We’re not going to be the saving tribe for keeping water in Lake Mead or Lake Powell, but it’s one solution, one checkoff mark," Tribal Chairwoman Amelia Flores said.  

Flores says the drop in water levels at Lake Powell is news she hoped she wouldn't see, but she hopes the change will help her tribe's bill move forward. The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs  heard Flores' testimony on the bill in March.

Alisa Reznick is a senior field correspondent covering stories across southern Arizona and the borderlands for the Tucson bureau of KJZZ's Fronteras Desk.