The Arkansas Basin Roundtable is beating the drum for additional storage and water for agriculture


From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The Arkansas Basin Roundtable decided Wednesday to look at several scenarios for meeting the state’s water needs, balancing the needs of agriculture against projected increases in demand from cities. Ot ther roundtables in the state are going through a similar exercise and will compare notes at a statewide roundtable summit March 1 in Broomfield.

A model developed by the Colorado Water Conservation Board and CDM engineering plugs in the proportion of existing projects, urban conservation, water development and agricultural dry-up to a gap in water supplies identified in the Statewide Water Supply Initiative. The Interbasin Compact Committee hopes to combine the reports into a framework that looks at how to fill the gap.

The Arkansas Basin Roundtable has had two major differences with the IBCC process, taking the position that storage has to be a part of any process and that maintaining water for agriculture is as important as finding water for cities. The roundtable also chose to account for how much water could come from rotational fallowing, rather than permanent dry-up of farmland…

At a workshop in December, a few roundtable members came up with three scenarios involving low, middle and high estimates for water supply and demand. Most agreed the middle approach was reasonable. During the discussion, the roundtable also added a model for high demand and low supply, and another for low demand and high supply that most thought was far-fetched. In the low-demand, high-supply scenario, the Arkansas Basin would not suffer as much as the Western Slope and the South Platte basins. “I think the Western Slope uses the tool to reduce to the lowest level the amount of water available from the Colorado River,” said Jeris Danielson. “How many more high-mountain hay meadows can they irrigate?”

More IBCC — basin roundtables coverage here.

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