By Alena J. Anberg, communications internWaterSupply

Imperial Valley, rich in agriculture, has long had first-in-time rights to Colorado River water. But, as the drought continues not only in California, but for the Colorado River itself, concerns over water availability and snowpack are arising in the Imperial Valley as in other areas of the state, according to a KQED News California Report.

The Imperial Valley relies on snowpack from the Rockies to feed into the Colorado River, which channels into the All-American Canal. As drought conditions continue, however, , officials are considering whether Imperial Valley’s first-in-time rights to the All-American Canal make sense. Salt Lake City, Denver and Albuquerque also depend on the Colorado River. Currently, Colorado River water is keeping the Imperial Valley from experiencing the same extreme drought effects as other areas in California, including Southern California.

“Farming in Imperial Valley and Coachella,” Richard Atwater of the nonprofit Southern California Water Committee told KQED. “What’s the rationale for them to get first rights on the Colorado River when Denver, Salt Lake City, Albuquerque and 19 million people in Southern California all depend on Colorado River water, too?”

Growers argue that the agreement is justified because the water is used to grow food, not water lawns, and point out that incentives to let fields go fallow in the valley save water, but cost much-needed jobs.

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