Norton won’t reduce water releases from Lake Powell

Following a year’s worth of unsuccessful negotiations between governors of seven parched Western states, Interior Secretary Gale Norton stepped in yesterday to make a decision on how to divvy up the much-coveted water of the Colorado River. A winter of heavy precipitation and subsequent spring thaws have made the debate over how much water to divert to the river’s two largest reservoirs — Lake Powell to the north and Lake Mead to the south — even more heated. Upper-basin states Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, and New Mexico argued that water levels were finally high enough to decrease water flow out of Lake Powell, which is only one-third full after years of drought. But Arizona, Nevada, and California countered that such reductions would decrease their ability to draw water and power downstream. Norton’s final decision? Leave things as is, a situation that benefits downstream states. To which Arizona, Nevada, and California replied: “Face!”