“Efficiency and conservation need to be permanent programs” — Matt Rice/Bart Miller #COWaterPlan

Colorado River Basin including out of basin demands -- Graphic/USBR
Colorado River Basin including out of basin demands — Graphic/USBR

Here’s a guest column from the Denver Business Journal suggesting that prioritizing wet water in the streams, in the Colorado Water Plan, will have the best economic benefit. Click through and read the whole article. Here’s an excerpt:

Healthy rivers are essential to Colorado’s multibillion-dollar agriculture, recreational, tourism and business economies, not to mention the Colorado River’s impact on the 36 million people who rely on it for drinking water. Yet, for more than a decade Colorado and surrounding states have experienced unrelenting drought. One good snowpack – even on the heels of a historic flood – can’t erase that.

It’s no surprise that in its fourth annual poll of voters across six Western states on issues ranging from public lands to oil and gas development, Colorado College found water issues to be among the top priority issues. In fact, “low levels of water in rivers,” ranked as the No. 2 concern for Western voters, second only to unemployment.

Further emphasizing this sentiment, 78 percent of voters in Colorado agree that using the currently developed water supply more wisely is the best solution to low river levels. In addition, these same voters agree conservation, reducing use and increasing water recycling make more sense than costly, controversial water diversion projects.

An issue that concerns 82 percent of voters should get immediate and sustainable action…

The first common-sense measure that must be included in the state water plan is to keep our rivers flowing at healthy levels…

In addition, it’s critical that we modernize our agricultural policies so voluntary, water-sharing agreements can flourish to benefit agriculture, cities, and the environment. We can also provide better incentives for efficient agricultural water use, storage and infrastructure upgrades.

We need to avoid any new major water diversion projects. Expensive and controversial projects that drain water from the Western Slope to the Front Range are highly controversial, and fail to address the fact that there’s a finite amount of water available amid a rapidly growing population. Buying up agricultural water rights to support urban growth isn’t a sustainable solution, either.

The bottom line? The most cost-effective uses of dollars from water customers and the state, and the most practical and successful ways of ensuring that Colorado has enough water to go around, are conservation and efficiency. Our state water plan must incorporate these measures.

More Colorado Water Plan coverage here.

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