LAS VEGAS (KLAS) – If the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation seemed heavy-handed last week when announcing plans to enforce Colorado River water conservation, city officials in Tucson, Arizona, wasted little time in showing what might happen if managing water were left to each and every government that owns a share of the river.

A report by KOLD News 13 in Tucson indicates city officials are feeling less generous about storing water in Lake Mead if they don’t need it right now. They now see it as a sort of bargaining position that could be worth millions of dollars.

If Tucson could leave 30,000 of acre-feet in Lake Mead to help bolster the waterline, it could be worth up to $8 million to Tucson, according to the KOLD report.

Now Tucson city staff are recommending that the city take everything it’s allowed. The council hasn’t decided the matter yet.

The federal government said states had failed to come up with plans of “sufficient magnitude” to save 2 million to 4 million gallons of river water — a step that the Bureau of Reclamation sees as prudent given the continuing drought. And when states failed, the federal government set wheels in motion to take control of the situation and make the hard decisions that states couldn’t.

But maybe states ran into the attitude they found in Tucson.

“We are negotiating about the condition of a river that’s failing and it’s not just failing Tucson, it’s failing everybody who’s using it,” said Ward 6 Council member Steve Kozachik. “We are in an entirely new situation and none of those allocations or entitlements mean anything if there’s no water in the river.”