The Colorado River basin Study
The Colorado River Basin Water Supply and Demand Study, released in December 2012, represents a 2-year effort by the Bureau of Reclamation, agencies representing the seven Colorado River Basin States (Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada and California), and many other river stakeholders.
Demand for Colorado River water now outstrips the river’s supply. The purpose of the Study was to define future imbalances in water supply and demand for Colorado River water over the next 50 years, and to develop and analyze options and strategies to resolve those imbalances.
The Bureau of Reclamation’s cost analysis reveals that improved municipal conservation, water re-use and agricultural conservation would cost only a quarter as much as ocean desalination, and one third as much as a proposed new pipeline to stretch from the Missouri River across nearly 800 miles from Kansas to Colorado. Conservation, reuse, and inland desalination are consensus measures that are included in every suite of options, or “portfolios,” analyzed by the Bureau.
At this time the Department of the Interior and the seven states are convening three multi-stakeholder workgroups: 1) Municipal and Industrial (M&I) Conservation and Water Reuse, 2) Agricultural Conservation and Water Transfers, and 3) Healthy Flows to support ecological and recreational resources. These groups began meeting this summer and they will report out on Phase 1 of their work at the end of this year and complete their work by the end of next year. The groups are tasked with developing recommendations for next steps. We want this process to produce an actionable plan to achieve at least the 3 million acre feet of water savings via urban and agricultural conservation identified as achievable in the basin study.
To address increasing demand for water and persistent drought, the Administration/ Congress must begin to promote modern, sustainable management of the Colorado River by establishing a road map for the basin that:
1) Supports cost effective investments in existing infrastructure and water supply, and ensures that operations of existing storage can efficiently maximize water delivery in reliable quantities.
2) Prioritizes efficiency and conservation programs.
3) Protects rivers by promoting management decisions that maintain and restore flows needed for environmental health in critical river reaches of the Basin.
We encourage the Administration and Congress to direct appropriations and resources in the Colorado River Basin to programs that emphasize a balanced and cost effective “conservation and efficiency first” agenda.
Red line is supply and blue line is demand.
Image from USBR via Summit County Voice