U.S. Water News Online
PUEBLO, Colo. — By 2030, the Arkansas Valley's municipalities may face twice a water shortage twice as large as that estimated by the state in 2004, according to a new private survey.
Population growth in El Paso County and a planned expansion of a molybdenum mine in Lake County are among the reasons for the disparity, according to the report by the Applegate Group. It was reviewed by the Arkansas Basin Roundtable.
The report estimates the region's municipalities will need another 10 billion gallons of water, or 31,500 acre-feet, each year. In 2004, the Statewide Water Supply Initiative estimated the basin's extra needs at 17,400 acre feet.
El Paso County can expect a shortage of 22,600 acre-feet per year, the Applegate Group said.
The roundtable will use the report as it also assesses the valley's recreation and environmental needs this year. Agriculture was not considered by the report, though the state estimated in 2004 that 23,000 to 73,000 acres of farmland would have to be dry to meet municipal needs.
The Statewide Water Supply Initiative analyzed municipal water needs across the state after drought in 2001 and 2002. It estimated current municipal water use in the Arkansas Basin at 260,000 acre feet per year.
Current projects and conservation programs in the valley would meet only 82 percent of the basin's water needs, the state report said.
The Arkansas Basin covers 28,268 square miles of southeastern Colorado and includes Colorado Springs and Pueblo. The roundtable is comprised of regional water interests.
The roundtable sent three grant requests to the Colorado Water Conservation Board:
• $1.65 million for a basinwide integrated water decision support model by Colorado State University;
• $800,000 for a state demonstration project that includes La Junta to completely recover water from reverse osmosis;
• $285,000 for a plan to add lake and stream gauges in the Upper Arkansas River.