Western states near deadline for Colorado River drought plan

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — Western states are watching as Arizona comes up against a deadline to approve a plan on how to manage a dwindling supply of Colorado River water.

The other six states in the river basin have agreed to drought contingency plans.

Arizona’s has broad support among those who negotiated it, but it needs approval from the state Legislature.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation set a Thursday deadline. Without a consensus plan, the agency says it will make the rules.

Arizona arguably has the most to lose without a drought plan that would spread cuts more widely. It is the lowest priority for water among the states, and would be hit first and hardest under existing guidelines.

Most of that falls on farmers in central Arizona. The drought plan would help lessen the blow.

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