Seven Southwestern U.S. states that depend on the overtaxed Colorado River say they have reached tentative agreements on how to manage the waterway amid an unprecedented drought.
The plans announced Tuesday were a milestone for the river, which supports 40 million people and 6,300 square miles (16,300 square kilometers) of farmland in the U.S. and Mexico.
The plans aren't designed to prevent a shortage in the river, which water managers say could occur as soon as 2020. Instead, they're intended to manage and minimize the problems.
Officials say it will likely be next year before the states and the U.S. government approve the plans. Mexico agreed last year to participate in drought planning.
The river is governed by interstate compacts, international treaties and court rulings rather than by a single agency.