From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Gary Harmon):
Much of the water storage contemplated in the Colorado water plan already is under study, said the head of the Colorado Water Conservation Board.
“There are all sorts of good reasons to think we can close the gap” between current supplies and the demands expected by 2050, said James Eklund, executive director of the CWCB, which has a Dec. 10 deadline to present a state water plan to Gov. John Hickenlooper.
Completion of four projects already in process could account for the 400,000 acre-feet of water expected to be needed annually more than three decades from now, Eklund said.
“We could essentially zero out the gap by 2030” with greater conservation and moving ahead with existing storage plans, Eklund said.
“And we could do it reasonably,” Eklund said. “We’re not putting all our eggs in one basket in a West Slope water transfer or in buy and dry” on the Eastern Slope.
Even if that’s the case, there are fears that a surprise could lurk in the plan.
“The issue that has people concerned and disappointed is going to be the unnamed and unforeseen project,” said Chris Treese, spokesman for the Colorado River Water Conservation District.
While Eklund said the plan will include a framework under which transmountain diversions can be discussed, the fact is that Colorado won’t need another transmountain diversion.
“We can get to a pretty good spot” with existing projects and conservation, Eklund said.
The existing network of transmountain diversions now sends as many as 600,000 acre-feet of water from west to east.
That doesn’t necessarily preclude additional storage, however, Eklund said.
Each of the state’s river basins have a gap between existing supplies and projected demands, Eklund said.
“Our goal is to make storage, and conservation is going on,” Eklund said.