CWCB: Statewide Water Supply Initiative 2010 update

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Bump and update: Here’s a report from Joe Stone writing for The Mountain Mail. From the article:

A new report commissioned by the Colorado Water Conservation Board – Colorado’s Water Supply Future – shows by 2050 municipal and industrial water shortfall will be at least 36,000 acre feet a year in the Arkansas River Basin if all proposed water projects are completed. Without new projects, the basin shortfall could be as much as 110,000 acre feet per year.

The report estimates Colorado will need from 600,000 to 1 million acre feet per year of additional municipal and industrial and “self-supplied industrial” water by 2050. And if the state water supply continues to develop according to status quo, water for 500,000 irrigated acres could be transferred to municipal and industrial uses, resulting in “significant loss of agricultural land and potential harm to the environment.”[…]

Other factors driving increased demand for water include energy resource development, need to replace depleted groundwater sources and self-supplied industrial needs like oil shale development. For example, the report indicates an oil shale industry producing 1,550,000 barrels of oil per day could use as much as 120,000 acre feet of water per year.

Update: Here’s a look at the Grand Valley and their take on Colorado River governance, from Honora Swanson writing for From the article:

A new report out shows that our state will need twice as much water in 2050 as we do right now. The Colorado River Conservation District Board estimates 10 million more people could come to Colorado in the next 40 years. And with those people, comes a big demand for water.

The article is about the SWSI 2010 Update released last Friday by the Colorado Water Conservation Board.

Here’s a look back at last month’s meeting of the Colorado River Water Users Association Annual Conference with a bit of analysis of the basin thrown in, from Brett Walton writing for Circle of Blue Water News. From the article:

In Las Vegas last month, at the annual meeting of the Colorado River Water Users Association—the only organization bringing together stakeholders from each of the seven basin states—opponents and supporters made their views known during a speech by Doug Kenney, the director of the Western Water Policy Program at the University of Colorado-Boulder.

Kenney was invited to Caesar’s Palace to share the first-year findings from his study on water governance in the Colorado River Basin. His message: in a new era of water scarcity along the river—where supply and demand lines have already crossed—traditional water management practices will need to be fundamentally changed.

New options for managing the Colorado include establishing provisions for year-to-year agreements with states and farmers to avoid shortages. They also include improvements in the efficiency of river operations, or by river augmentation, which means adding new supplies from a slew of sources—some viable, some expensive, and some fanciful: desalination, river diversions, and weather modification, respectively.

Kenney’s governance study is just one of several such assessments—carried out by academics and federal agencies, as well as state and regional water management authorities—suggesting the need for new ways to manage water flows. The studies are providing a new legal and scientific foundation for defining existing water rights within states, clarifying laws and regulations about how shortages on the river would be handled, and evaluating options for increasing the basin’s water supply and reducing demand.

Kenney argued that the states of the upper basin—Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming—are the most vulnerable if future flows are as low as predicted because the river’s legal structure gives priority to Mexico and the lower basin states of Arizona, California and Nevada.

More Colorado River basin coverage here.

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