Ciscomani launches new bipartisan Colorado River Caucus

U.S. Rep. Juan Ciscomani, R-Ariz., addresses the crowd at the 2023 Graham County Republican Partyu Lincoln Day Luncheon at Eastern Arizona College. - David Bell Photo/Gila Valley Central

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Rep. Juan Ciscomani, R-Ariz., and U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse, D-Colo., today launched the Colorado River Caucus, a new bipartisan effort by members of the 118th Congress to foster greater cooperation between the seven Western states impacted by the rapid depletion of the Colorado River.

“I am proud to join Representative Neguse to launch and co-chair the bipartisan Colorado River Caucus Ciscomani said. “Water is our most precious resource, and we must address the uncertainty caused by the severe drought that is impacting 40 million residents of Arizona and the Southwest. I look forward to collaborating with my colleagues on solutions that bring together the Upper and Lower Basins and secure a strong water future for us all.”

Neguse agreed.

“As the representative of the headwaters of the Colorado River, I’m honored to be joined by colleagues from the Upper and Lower Basin States in launching the Congressional Colorado River Caucus. Together, and working with our colleagues in the Senate, we will collaborate with each other and state and local leaders, putting the interests of our communities above all else and working together towards our shared goal to mitigate the impacts felt by record-breaking levels of drought. We must protect the reliability and consistency of this critical water source — and we’re ready to get to work,” Neguse said.

Ciscomani and Neguse will lead the 12-member caucus. Arizona and Colorado are among the country’s fastest growing states. In addition to rapid population growth, both states’ economies include robust agricultural and tourism sectors.

Ciscomani has prioritized preserving water rights for Arizona ranchers, farmers, and families who rely on the Colorado River. This is a critical issue in Arizona, which saw a 21-percent reduction to its initial water allocation last year, the largest of any state.

“After two decades of record-breaking drought, Arizonans know that this is a challenge that won’t be solved easily,” said Pinal County Supervisor Stephen Miller, who serves on Ciscomani’s Citizens Advisory Council. “I am proud to see Congressman Ciscomani take leadership by bringing together his Basin State colleagues to facilitate the necessary conversations about water management. I am confident the Colorado River Caucus will promote solutions and support the work of our state and local leaders.”

The Colorado River Caucus will advocate for a seven-state solution with efficient conservation measures that preserve water rights across the board. Along with Arizona and Colorado, the five other states directly impacted by the Colorado River are California, Nevada, New Mexico, Wyoming, and Utah.

Other members include U.S. Rep. Greg Stanton (D), of Arizona; U.S. Reps. Grace Napolitano (D) and Jay Obernolte (R), of California, U.S. Reps. Chris Stewart (R) and John Curtis (R), of Utah; U.S. Reps. Dana Titus (D) and Mark Amodei (R), of Nevada; U.S. Reps. Melanie Stansbury (D) and Teresa Leger Fernandes (D), of New Mexico; and U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn (R), of Colorado.

The Colorado River provides water to over 40 million residents across the seven Western Basin states and supports a $15 billion agricultural industry. After record-breaking drought conditions and water shortages, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation called on the seven basin states last year to agree to an emergency deal that would drastically reduce water diversions by 2 million to 4 million acre-feet per year.