IBCC: Basin roundtables are being asked to create a mix of solutions or a ‘portfolio’ for meeting Colorado’s 2050 M&I water needs, using the board’s portfolio tool

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Here’s the announcement from the Interbasin Compact Committee (Eric Hecox):

Congratulations on your hard work over the past few months. On May 26nd Director Stulp sent out a memo called the Colorado Water for the 21st Century Roadmap outlining the path forward for this process. The Roadmap listed short-term, mid-term, and long-term objectives. The first item under short-term objectives encouraged the Basin Roundtables to complete their basin-wide water supply needs assessments (needs assessments) in the form of the SWSI Basin Reports by the end of June. These Basin Reports are wrapping up and the needs assessments are essentially complete. While the needs assessments are living documents and can always be supplemented, we now are entering a new and exciting phase of our work together.

This phase involves the development of portfolios. As articulated in the Colorado Water for the 21st Century Roadmap the objective is:

· To ensure grassroots input in developing statewide solutions, each roundtable will be asked to develop one or more statewide portfolios using the portfolio tool. This should include at least one mid demand / mid supply portfolio, but some roundtables may choose to develop portfolios for other scenarios as well. CWCB will provide technical assistance in this effort, and IBCC members from one or more basins may go to other basins to support portfolio development.

Over the next six months the Basin Roundtables will be involved in this activity. We will be working with the roundtable Chairs on the logistics of developing portfolios, but an integral part of this effort will be the Portfolio Tool developed by CWCB. We will work with each Basin Roundtable over the next few months to understand and use the Portfolio Tool. However, for those who want to start learning about the tool, you can download the Portfolio Tool and documentation of how the tool works at: http://cwcb.state.co.us/technical-resources/portfolio-tool/Pages/main.aspx

While the tool is essentially finalized, we are still working on one final trade-off. If we can work out the technical details and incorporate it into the tool, we will send out the link to the updated tool.

To remind everyone, the Portfolio Tool allows the user to create a mix of solutions or a “portfolio” for meeting Colorado’s 2050 M&I water needs. The tool also has a variety of trade-offs including the cost of the portfolio, the number of irrigated acres that would be dried up, impact to west slope nonconsumptive needs, etc. These trade-offs will help inform what portfolio each roundtable feels meets their needs as well as the needs of other basins. The tool is also full of new detail, ranging from being able to specify identified projects and processes success rates to seeing portfolios for each individual basin.

I encourage you to spend some time with the Portfolio Tool and look forward to working with you over the next six months to develop portfolios for meeting our state’s long-term water supply needs.

Note: The tool was created with Microsoft Excel and therefore requires a computer running Windows. It seems to work on my Macintosh using Open Office but I’ll have to check it out more closely. It’s a shame that the state of Colorado does not have a commitment to cross-platform solutions.

More coverage from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

Meant to address the “gap” first identified in the 2004 Statewide Water Supply Initiative, the tool applies hypothetical values for ongoing and proposed projects, conservation and transfers to meeting water supply shortfalls…

IBCC director John Stulp sees value in exposing more people throughout the state to the portfolio tool. “It’s just that, a tool. It gives the roundtables the opportunity to make assumptions,” Stulp said. “If you have a project you’re interested in, you can calculate the yield for the new supply and assign a certain amount for that.”

The important thing is to determine how the remainder of the water needed could be obtained. “I think as people use it, it will send a message that if you do one thing over here, something else has to happen over there,” Stulp said. “It will get people to understand how doing something has consequences.”

The tool can take storage into account by assigning values to identified or proposed projects, Stulp said…

The tool also would show how much of the gap an attainable level of conservation could fill, a position environmental groups favor over building new water projects. It also could identify what sort of impact land-fallowing lease programs like Super Ditch could have versus the permanent sale of agricultural water, Stulp said.

Here’s a nice table of the current supply gaps by basin from The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

While the Statewide Water Supply Initiative identified municipal needs in 2004, roundtables have spent the past six years refining their needs assessments, and determined the gap in supplies could be as much as 800,000 acre-feet annually by 2050. Some highlights from reports to the Interbasin Compact Committee last month:

– Arkansas River basin: A gap of 36,000 to 110,000 acre-feet per year (af/y), driven by El Paso County growth, is foreseen by the year 2050. The roundtable’s priority is to maintain agriculture while meeting all needs.

– South Platte River basin: Including the Denver metro area, the gap could be 99,000 to 360,000 af/y by 2050. More than half of the need will be in the metro area, and many projects are in competition with each other.

– Rio Grande basin: The Rio Grande basin is showing a gap of 180,000 af/y by 2050, with 160,000 af/y needed to maintain current levels of irrigated agriculture. About 80,000 acres of farm land will have to be taken out of production to avoid further depletion of groundwater in the arid basin.

– Colorado River basin: The Colorado River basin will need an additional 65,000 to 110,000 af/y, and could have a gap of 22,000 to 48,000 af/y by 2050. Oil shale could increase the demand for water.

– Yampa-White basin: There is the potential to increase irrigated agriculture in the state’s northeast corner, but oil shale development could tie up 120,000 af/y, depending on the level of commercial development.

More IBCC — basin roundtables coverage here.

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