Front Range Water Council: Water and the Colorado economy

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Click here to download a copy (pdf) of the report.

Here’s a look at the presentation at the Colorado Water Congress’ 52nd Annual Convention where the report was discussed, from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

A study by Summit Economics, working in conjunction with Tucker Hart Adams’ group, was commissioned by the Front Range Water Council to explain the relationship of water to the Colorado Economy. The council is made up of the state’s largest water providers, who are also importing most of the water from the Western Slope. Denver, Aurora, Colorado Springs, Pueblo, Twin Lakes and the Northern and Southeastern water conservancy districts are members of the council. “The trade between regions operates like gravity,” economist Tom Binnings told the Colorado Water Congress this week, describing the report, Water and Colorado’s Economy. “The larger two regions are and the closer they are means the more likely they are to trade.”

So, in the solar system barnyard of Colorado, what results is a Jupiter-sized chicken surrounded by a bunch of smaller inner planet eggs. Well, OK . . . Binnings didn’t exactly put it that way, but chart after chart in his presentation showed how Front Range counties — the area used in the study stretched along the Front Range from the Wyoming to New Mexico — dwarf the economies of the Eastern Plains, Central Colorado, San Luis Valley and Western Slope. With 82 percent of the population and 86 percent of income, the change has been readily apparent in the past 50 years.

Perhaps the most alarming computation in the report was the economic output of a region divided by the amount of water diverted. By that yardstick, the Front Range showed a value of $132,268 per acre-foot, with Central Colorado (the Upper Arkansas Valley, Huerfano and Park counties) at $12,326, and the Western Slope at $7,200. The two areas most dependent on agriculture fell behind distantly: the Eastern Plains, $3,342, and San Luis Valley, $1,209. The study admits agriculture is more dependent on water for value, while other sectors of the economy use relatively little water for the value of their output…

Members of the Front Range Council on the Water Congress panel said the study brought home the idea of interdependence in the state. “We live in a great state with a strong economic base and a bright future,” said Bruce McCormick, water services chief for Colorado Springs Utilities. “The industrial and municipal uses have high productivity, but it’s not the intent of this study to put one use against another. Our planning has to include agriculture, the environment and the lifestyle. What we learned is that we’re more interdependent than we thought.”

“One of the reasons people come here are the things that occur in the areas outside the Front Range,” said Mark Pifher, director of Aurora water. “So, it’s all tied together.”

More Colorado water coverage here and here.

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