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BuRec to study three western river basins

The Bureau of Reclamation said it plans to launch a study of several river basins in the western United States to identify options for future water management.

The new basin study program is needed because competition for sparse water supplies have heightened amid climate change, record drought, population increases and environmental concerns, said BuRec Commissioner Michael Connor.

“Given today’s challenges in the area of water resources, it is imperative that the federal government be a strong and reliable partner in working with state, tribal and local water managers,” Connor said. “The Bureau of Reclamation is addressing this need by partnering with key stakeholders to conduct comprehensive studies and create basin-specific plans recommending collaborative solutions that will meet water demands and foster sustainable development.”

The first three basin studies are:

- The Colorado River Basin Water Supply and Demand Study, covering portions of Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming.
- Yakima River Basin Study and Associated Basin Restoration Implementation Plan, covering south central Washington.
- Modeling for the Future of the Milk and St. Mary River System in north central and southern Montana.

Altogether, the studies will cost $2.65 million. BuRec said it will provide half of the funding for each project. BuREC said each study will include a projection of water supplies and demand, an assessment of the impacts of climate change, an analysis of how the performance of water and power operations might change, and recommendations on how to optimize operations while recognizing environmental priorities.

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