U.S. Water News Online
DENVER -- The heavily populated South Platte River basin
will need an additional 52,000 acre feet of water -- enough for
100,000 families -- by 2030.
A statewide study says even more will be needed if Denver-area
communities fail to build planned water projects, including dams.
``There will be opposition to a lot of these projects, and if they
don't move forward, that gap is going to increase,'' said Rod
Kuharich, director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board.
The findings are part of a $2.7 million study looking at how much
water the state will need, existing supplies and any gaps between
demand and supply. The Statewide Water Supply Project is examining
eight major river basins, from Durango to Sterling, Alamosa and
Water use in the South Platte River basin, which serves Denver and
other Front Range cities, is expected to increase 53% during the next
26 years. Demand is forecast to rise to 1.2 million acre feet of
water from the current 772,500.
Water utilities say they can meet all but 52,000 acre feet of that
An acre foot of water equals about 326,000 gallons, enough water
for two families for a year.
``I think these numbers are useful just to give people some sense
of what we're looking at,'' said David Nickum, director of the
Colorado chapter of Trout Unlimited.
He was among the environmentalists, utility representatives and
politicians at a meeting for participants in the water study.
Nickum and others said researchers must address at least two more
key issues: protecting water supplies for streams and wetlands and
the effect of water transfers between basins.
Diversions of water from the Western Slope to the more populous
Front Range have touched off numerous political battles in the past.
The new study, to be presented to the Legislature in November, has
stirred concerns on both sides of the Continental Divide.
Western Colorado communities worry the state will push to siphon
off more of the area's water. Cities along the South Platte fear they
won't get access to water they will need as the drought continues and
the population keeps growing.
Researchers have said the Front Range shouldn't necessarily count
on getting more water from the Colorado or Gunnison river basins in
the western part of the state.
As the research continues, study groups in each river basin will
look at meeting any gaps in water supplies by building new dams,
reservoirs and pipelines and conservation.
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