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Gila River Indian Community announces plan to conserve more water

The Gila River Indian Community in Arizona announced plans to conserve a significant amount of its water supplies. The savings will be used to prop up water levels in Lake Mead.

That’s a reversal from tribe’s plan in August to keep more water. Now they’re taking advantage of new money from the federal government. Gila River is seeking payouts from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which are part of a program to incentivize water cutbacks.

“We want to be good actors,” said Stephen Roe Lewis is the community’s governor. “We want to make sure that the precious water supplies that we have … that it's going to go to a sustainable solution.”

This is just one conservation plan in a patchwork of other water-saving agreements across the Colorado River basin. The federal government is putting pressure on water users to cut back as climate change keeps driving a two-decade megadrought.

Sarah Porter studies water policy at Arizona State University. She says it’s a financial decision, as well as a moral one.

“The Gila River Indian Community deciding to offer to conserve substantial amounts of water means that we have a better opportunity to keep negotiations on track to get to the deal that we need to get to,” porter said.

This conservation plan is just one of a patchwork of other water-saving agreements across the Colorado River basin. The federal government is putting pressure on water users to cut back as a two-decade megadrought driven by climate change continues.