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Arizona won't have all the pieces of a Colorado River drought plan finished by the federal government's deadline to finalize protections for water used by millions across the U.S. West, state water officials said Tuesday.
It's the latest hurdle threatening the plan between seven states to take less water from the drought-starved Colorado River, which supplies 40 million people and 5.5 million acres of farmland. Missing the March 4 deadline could allow the federal government to step in and decide the rules.
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About half of the 15 agreements that Arizona needs to secure among water users will be ready by March 4, said Ted Cooke, director of the Central Arizona Project, which brings Colorado River water to the sprawling cities and farm fields around Phoenix and Tucson.
"That's an artificial deadline, and these are very complex agreements and very complex negotiations, and we will take the time that we need to do them properly," Cooke told reporters Tuesday following a meeting of water users working on the drought plan.
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He said he hopes to finalize all the agreements within 60 days.
Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Nevada have joined drought contingency plans for the Colorado River, while Arizona and California are still working on plans.
Arizona - Lawmakers - Drought - Plan - US
Arizona lawmakers have approved the drought plan, but U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Director Brenda Burman has said the state also must finalize the complex agreements needed to implement it.
If that's not done...
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