A California congressman recently introduced legislation that would establish water conservation measures and ensure a reliable water source for Southern California. The bill will establish a water source for California agriculture and urban needs, as well as allowing the state to avoid future water conflicts. The congressman said the bill intends to "settle a long dispute regarding California's consumption of Colorado River water and also ensure that water will be used more efficiently and will be available to those who need it. This bill also works to protect and continue restoration efforts for one of California's best natural resources, the Salton Sea."

Current water rights provide California with an allotment of 4.4 million acre-feet annually from the Colorado River. However, California has been using approximately 800,000 acre-feet more than its share. An agreement between the Colorado River water agencies established guidelines that would make California compliant with its requirement. The legislation authorizes $60 million to pay for the impacts that the water-transfer provisions would have on the environment and to fund off-stream reservoirs to store surplus water.

If adopted, California will have 15 years to gradually reduce its use of Colorado River water to the required 4.4 million acre-feet, rather than being forced to comply by 2003.