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Deal struck to conserve Colorado River basin

DENVER -- The Interior Department and four municipal water providers in the West are contributing $11 million to fund projects aimed at conserving water in the Colorado River basin, which supplies water to about 40 million people in seven states.

Interior officials said Thursday that local water providers in Arizona, California, Nevada and Colorado will participate in a pilot program aimed at reducing water demand by cities, farmers and industry.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of the Interior Mike Connor calls the agreement "a critically important first step" in addressing water shortages in the drought-stricken basin.

Researchers from NASA and the University of California, Irvine, reported last week that groundwater losses from the basin appear massive enough to challenge long-term water supplies for the states and the parts of Mexico it serves.

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