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Colorado River System
Colorado River Salinity Management

International Boundary and Water Commission Minute 242 – This minute of the commission issued in 1973, requires actions in the United States be taken to reduce the salinity of water delivered to Mexico pursuant to the Mexican Water Treaty.

Colorado River Basin Salinity Control Act of 1974 – This act, and amendments to it in 1984, authorized the construction, operation and maintenance of certain desalting works and salinity control projects to improve Colorado River water quality, and established the Colorado River Basin Salinity Control Advisory Council. The Yuma Desalting Plant, which was constructed pursuant to this act but was placed in standby status in 1993 because of the operating costs of the plant, was operated in 2007 for a limited duration demonstration run and in 2010 for a more prolonged pilot run. Also pursuant to the act, the Secretaries of the Departments of the Interior and Agriculture and the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency in February 1976 approved a charter for the council, which was revised in June 1976 and has been renewed biennially. The council consists of up to three members from each of the seven Colorado River Basin States as appointed by the respective Governors. The Council prepares annual reports making recommendations to the federal agencies concerning the progress of the Salinity Control Program and the need for specific actions by involved federal agencies.

Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 – This act enacted a farm bill that allows the Secretary of Agriculture to continue salinity control activities mandated by the Colorado River Basin Salinity Control Act and authorizes a Basin States Program using up-front cost shares from the Basin Fund to enhance salinity control programs of Reclamation and the Department of Agriculture. The authorized cost-share contributions from the Basin Fund are to be used for: (1) cost effective measures and associated works to reduce salinity from saline springs, leaking wells, irrigation sources, industrial sources, erosion of public and private land, or other sources; (2) operation and maintenance of salinity control features constructed under the Colorado River Basin salinity control program; and (3) studies, planning, and administration of salinity control activities.

Colorado River Basin Salinity Control Forum – The forum was created by the seven Colorado River Basin states in response to a proposal by the Environmental Protection Agency and promulgation of a regulation (40 CFR 120) on basin-wide salinity control policy that requires the states to adopt water quality standards for salinity. Activities of the forum include recommending and sharing costs of salinity control projects, and preparing triennial reviews of water quality standards for the Colorado River system. The forum also works closely with the Department of Agriculture through the rule-making process to ensure a smooth transition of salinity control program activities.

New Mexico Water Quality Standards – The Water Quality Control Commission is the water pollution control agency for the State of New Mexico for all purposes of the federal Clean Water Act, and for wellhead protection and sole source aquifer programs of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. The commission promulgates water quality standards for streams in New Mexico, including the incorporation of water quality standards for the San Juan River Basin in New Mexico pursuant to the water quality standards for the Colorado River system adopted by the Colorado River Basin Salinity Control Forum.

Navajo Nation Water Quality Standards – The Navajo Nation Environmental Protection Agency is the water pollution control agency for the Navajo Nation for purposes of the federal Clean Water Act and federal Safe Drinking Water Act. The agency promulgates water quality standards for streams on Navajo Nation lands.