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Negotiator says 7 states are close to a Colorado River water sharing deal

Policymakers say they’re getting closer to an agreement between seven Western states on how to manage the Colorado River in the future. But details from those closed-door negotiations have been limited.

Utah’s top water negotiator said states have met “three or four times” since they split into two factions and put out competing proposals back in March. Gene Shawcroft didn’t give specifics but said they’re making progress on a strategy to share water after 2026, when the current river management plan expires.

“I think the commitment level to stay together on a seven state proposal is significantly higher now than it was a few weeks ago,” he said.

It does not appear likely that Shawcroft and his allies are willing to back off from a proposal to send less water downstream to California, Arizona and Nevada each year. That idea has been a major wedge between the two groups. Those downstream states are framing the idea as a non-starter.