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Plan To Protect Colorado River Still Isn't Done. Now What?

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — Another federal deadline has passed for seven states in the U.S. West to finish a plan to protect the drought-stricken Colorado River.

The river delivers water to 40 million people in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. The states have been crafting drought contingency plans for years.

But Arizona and California missed a deadline Monday and another set earlier by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

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Without a consensus, the agency will allow governors from the seven states to weigh in with recommendations on what to do next. The federal government also could step in and impose its own rules in the river's lower basin.

The comment period ends March 19. The bureau says it can call off the process if all states complete work before then.