Streamflows in the #ColoradoRiver Basin in recent years are a cause for concern

Colorado River -- photo via Wikipedia
Colorado River — photo via Wikipedia

Here’s a report about the recent Colorado River District annual seminar from Hannah Holm writing for the Vail Daily. Click through and read the whole thing. Here’s an excerpt:

I wasn’t actually at the meeting — I was held up near Denver by landslides — but I recently caught some of the presentations on video, and so can you. The Colorado River District, which organized the meeting, has made videos of the presentations available on the Web at Slides shown by presenters are also posted there.

Colorado River District Manager Eric Kuhn set the stage for the day’s discussions with a few basic observations about the Colorado River Basin that are fundamental to understanding the challenges involved in trying to meet the needs of everyone who relies on the river: 35 million people (and growing) with 5.5 million acres of irrigated land in seven states, 10 autonomous/sovereign Native American tribes and two countries. He didn’t even have to mention the fish, cottonwoods, ski resorts or rafters to make the challenge sound daunting.

Kuhn pointed out that between 2000-13, natural flow into the Colorado River system above the Hoover Dam was 180 million acre-feet, while total water use from the basin was 210 million acre-feet, leading to a drawdown of 30 million acre-feet of water stored in reservoirs. And the Colorado River Basin Supply and Demand Study (Basin Study) released late last year forecast that demands are likely to keep growing.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that disaster lies around the next bend, but it might…

Other seminar speakers elaborated on this overall theme of shrinking supplies and growing demands, with presentations on our shrinking Rocky Mountain snowpack, dropping water levels in Lake Powell, Las Vegas strategies to adapt to dropping water levels in Lake Mead, innovative urban water conservation strategies and the challenges involved in planning to meet growing water needs within Colorado.

These issues show no signs of going away any time soon, and how they are resolved will have far-reaching implications for the whole region’s economy, environment and quality of life. Reviewing the presentations from the River District’s seminar will leave you well prepared to understand what’s going on and what’s at stake, and to add your voice to the conversation.

More Colorado River Basin coverage here and here.

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