U.S. Water News Online
DENVER -- The Colorado Water Conservation Board plans to
spend up to $500,000 next year to launch phase two of a far-reaching,
closely watched study examining how the state will quench its thirst
in the face of a relentless population boom.
In a draft of the study circulated recently, the board recommended
several key steps the state should take. They include:
¥ Facilitating talks among officials in the state's eight river
basins to ensure rural areas, where much of the state's water
originates, and the thirsty urban Front Range can share water
¥ Finding funds to preserve water for the environment and
¥ Requiring water utilities to report annual water use to ensure
adequate data for planning.
¥ Monitoring water utilities' progress in meeting local water
The Statewide Water Supply Initiative, as the study is known, was
launched 16 months ago in response to the drought. The idea was to
help lawmakers understand the state's water needs and what role
policymakers could play in managing the state's water supplies.
The final report is due Dec. 1. To date, the study has shown that
even as the drought eases, Colorado's water needs will soar 53
percent by 2030 as 2.8 million more people arrive.
The state will need an additional 630,000 acre feet of water
&emdash; enough to serve another 1.26 million households. An acre
foot of water equals about 326,000 gallons.
How that water is supplied - whether through additional
transmountain diversions, the drying up of farms, aggressive
conservation or water recycling - is a critical question Colorado has
yet to answer.
"Our challenge now is to put the data in front of people and see
what the solutions should be," said Rick Brown, project manager for
the $2.7 million study.
Cities have said they can meet most of their future water demands
by drying up agricultural lands, expanding existing reservoirs and
But Western Slope officials and environmentalists remain deeply
worried that the state will back a large-scale effort to move vast
quantities of water - again - from the Western Slope to the Front
"That suspicion will always be there, but that is not what this
study is about," Brown said.
Still others worry that Colorado's rural farm economies will be
crippled as cities move to convert more farm water to municipal use.
"I think it's good to have a statewide picture," said Rep. Diane
Hoppe, a Republican from Sterling who chairs the legislature's Water
"The drought has raised everyone's awareness. It's always nice
when we have enough water here. But when we don't, we have to say,
'Could we be managing the resource better?' "
the U.S. Water News Archives page
Return to the U.S. Water
Use a comma to separate e-mail addresses:
Hi, I thought you might like to read this article.