Conservation: How should we manage the remaining undeveloped supplies of water in Colorado?

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Should we be planning more than 50 years in the future? When mining collapsed in Colorado agriculture and then tourism helped sustain the economy. Bart Miller, Drew Peternell and Becky Long are betting that Coloradans can understand the need for these sustainable wedges in Colorado’s economic mix. Here’s their guest column running in the Summit Daily News. Click through and read the whole thing. Here’s an excerpt:

As Western Slope streams are diverted east, so goes the economic livelihood of many mountain towns and businesses that depend on tourism and recreation.

Many Coloradans live here, and most visitors come here because of our state’s outstanding outdoor resources and opportunities, from trout fishing to rafting — it’s what makes our state special. Recreation is a multi-billion dollar business in Colorado. We degrade our rivers and streams at the risk of undermining not only our economy but also the high quality of life we enjoy as Coloradans.

Colorado’s rivers and streams are at a dangerous tipping point, and we can no longer take their health for granted in water planning.

Our balanced water plan rests on four solid legs: expanded water conservation, water reuse projects, more water sharing between the agricultural and municipal sectors, and “acceptable planned projects,” our name for proposed water supply projects that can meet “smart” guidelines for protecting rivers and the environment.

Conservation is often the cheapest and fastest way to create a new water source. While Denver and other cities have made great strides in promoting conservation, there is much more than could be done. Consider that half of Denver’s water use still goes toward outdoor landscaping. By offering incentives for homeowners to modestly reduce turf and water use, Front Range communities can significantly reduce the need for new water sources.

More conservation coverage here.

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