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7 states need 'innovative thinking' in Colorado River drought

May 29, 2013|By Tony Perry
  • A farm worker in the Imperial Valley adjusts sprinkler heads spraying water that comes from the Colorado River.
A farm worker in the Imperial Valley adjusts sprinkler heads spraying water… (David McNew / Getty Images )

As everyone knows, Mark Twain said: In the West, whiskey is for drinking, water is for fighting.

But with drought strangling the Colorado River, the seven states that depend on the river need to cooperate as never before in sharing and conserving this priceless commodity, according to federal agencies that oversee river allocations.

A report issued during a high-level water meeting in San Diego said, "This effort will require innovative thinking, integration of many viewpoints, and a commitment to work in a positive and collaborative spirit."

The Colorado River provides water for Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Denver, Phoenix, Tucson, San Diego and myriad other cities. And it also irrigates cropland that provides 15% of the nation's food, including from the Imperial Valley, the largest single user of Colorado River water.

Initial indications are that the big players in Western water are ready to cooperate in a drive for conservation.

"Our sleeves are already rolled up and have been for some time," said an official representing Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico and Utah.

Whether that spirit prevails when the plans turn into details or whether Twain's dictum will again prove true remains to be seen.

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tony.perry@latimes.com

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