Could Monday’s landmark deal to conserve the Colorado River be a blueprint for future water deals in Texas?

Colorado, California, Arizona agree to conserve 3 million acre-feet of water through 2026

FILE - A formerly sunken boat sits high and dry along the shoreline of Lake Mead at the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Tuesday, May 10, 2022, near Boulder City, Nev. The Biden administration on Tuesday, April 11, 2023 released an environmental analysis of competing plans for how Western states and tribes reliant on the dwindling Colorado River should cut their use. (AP Photo/John Locher,File) (John Locher, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

A deal was struck Monday by seven Colorado River basin states to conserve an unprecedented amount of water from the important water source.

Instead of the federal government coming in to regulate the water, the states came to an agreement that requires California, Arizona, and Colorado to conserve 3 million acre-feet of water through 2026. That’s no easy task.

In return, the US government is supplying $1 billion in federal funding.

The Colorado River provides drinking water for 40 million people in the US, along with two states in Mexico. It’s also a source of power and a relied-upon resource for numerous tribal nations. Water supply has dwindled after a decade-long drought. Lake Mead is stark example.

FILE - A man stands on a hill overlooking a formerly sunken boat standing upright into the air with its stern buried in the mud along the shoreline of Lake Mead at the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Jan. 27, 2023, near Boulder City, Nev. A new study Thursday, May 18, 2023, says climate changes hotter temperatures and societys diversion of water have been shrinking the worlds lakes, including Lake Mead, by trillions of gallons of water a year since the early 1990s. (AP Photo/John Locher, File) (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Coming to an agreement is an incredible feat, considering the current value of water. The deal involves detangling century-long claims to a natural resource both domestically and in the case of Mexico, internationally. So, while this deal is for a water-starved region hundreds of miles away, it may lay out a blueprint for Texas and it’s struggle with water conservation. To be clear, Texas is in much better shape than our counterparts to the west, but recent fights over Rio Grande River water does show some similarities.

Texas and New Mexico did come to an agreement over the Rio Grande, however, it still needs final approval by the Supreme Court.

Meantime, Texas and Mexico operate under a 1944 treaty in which Mexico is to deliver a set amount of water from the Rio Grande to Texas over a 5-year period. This arrangement has been contentious in the past. There are also tribal nations that lay claim to the water.

All of this to say that water is becoming more and more valuable. Yes, we are forecast to come out of our current drought this year. But, this isn’t the first drought and it won’t be the last. As populations along waterways explode, the issue will become even more complicated in the future and may require compromise. In addition, the framework deals that are developed now may have large implications for years to come.

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About the Author:

Justin Horne is a meteorologist and reporter for KSAT 12 News. When severe weather rolls through, Justin will hop in the KSAT 12 Storm Chaser to safely bring you the latest weather conditions from across South Texas. On top of delivering an accurate forecast, Justin often reports on one of his favorite topics: Texas history.