Metro Roundtable Reception: Five million more Coloradans by 2050 will put tremendous pressure for water on the agricultural sector

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From the Colorado Independent (Alan Best):

The bigger losers in this water-soluble game of Chinese fire drill are agriculture, which currently uses 85 to 90 percent of the state’s water, and natural ecosystems, such as the vast complex of life along waterways…

Already, much water originally allocated for farms in the Fort Morgan and Sterling areas has been sold to water providers in the Denver metropolitan area, said Joe Frank, executive director of the Lower South Platte Water Conservancy District. “It’s not very visible yet because the water hasn’t been removed from the (agricultural) land,” said Frank, whose district distributes water from Fort Morgan to the Nebraska border…

But John Sanderson, water program director for The Nature Conservancy, pointed out that free-running rivers during spring also have value. “Those high flows are important to maintaining habitat,” he said. Sanderson noted that 15 percent of aquatic species found in and along Colorado’s creeks and rivers by the first settlers have been extirpated form this region, while another 40 percent are now endangered, threatened or otherwise at risk…

Among the new ideas to emerge since the 2002 drought was development of water in the Green River in either Wyoming or Utah. The water later passes through Colorado for about 20 miles, giving Colorado an arguable right to water in the river even if it is diverted to another state. Aaron Million, a Fort Collins-based entrepreneur, came up with the idea and continues to pursue it. But the South Metropolitan Water Supply Authority later proposed a similar idea, drawing on either Flaming Gorge Reservoir or Fontenelle Reservoir, both located on the Green River. Rod Kuharich, executive director of the South Metro group, said his group has met with people from the Wyoming cities of Cheyenne, Casper, Torrington and Green River, but he ultimately sees the deal being a state-to-state transaction, if it ever occurs.

More IBCC — basin roundtables coverage here.

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