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Future of Colorado River on agenda in San Diego

May 28, 2013 - The Associated Press

The river originates as the Green River in Wyoming, and water commitments from Flaming Gorge Reservoir are at issue in downstream disputes.

Top water decision-makers from seven Western states plan to join conservation groups and Indian tribes in San Diego on Tuesday to begin hammering out rules for squeezing every useable drop from the overtaxed Colorado River, which is used by Wyoming irrigators far upstream from its most-contentious region.

The work meeting hosted by federal water managers comes amid dire predictions for the waterway. The U.S. interior secretary five months ago issued a call to arms and declared that the river already described as the most plumbed and regulated in the world would be unable to meet demands of a growing regional population over the next 50 years.

"We're looking at a very significant chance of declaring a shortage in the Colorado River basin in 2016," Michael Connor, commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation, said in an interview in advance of the conference.

"We really need to get to specifics, technical liabilities and the political feasibility of projects," he said.

Connor heads the federal agency responsible for what he called the most litigated and fought-over resource in the country. He said data projects 2013 will be the fourth-driest year in the Colorado River basin over the past 100 years. Last year was the fifth-driest year on record.

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