Southern California officials approve Colorado River drought plan

(John Locher | AP Photo) In this July 28, 2014, file photo, lightning strikes over Lake Mead near Hoover Dam that impounds Colorado River water at the Lake Mead National Recreation Area in Arizona.

Los Angeles • Southern California’s largest water wholesaler has approved a drought contingency plan that it hopes will help ensure the drought-stressed Colorado River will supply the Southwest for a decade.

General Manager Jeffrey Kightlinger says Tuesday's approval adds the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California to water agencies in Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming that have approved plans to take less water from key river reservoirs, including lakes Mead and Powell.

Arizona, several water agencies and Congress still must approve the reserve plan, which Kightlinger calls a tourniquet that will buy time to deal with predicted shortages. The river provides about 25 percent of the water for Southern California cities and farms.

The approval by the MWD board comes ahead of talks about contingency plans this week in Las Vegas.