From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Gary Harmon):
Building a transmountain diversion in Colorado is one thing — 11 on a difficulty scale of 5 — but increasing water storage might be far easier, the head of the Colorado Water Conservation Board said.
The board is nearing completion of the state’s first water plan, which Gov. John Hickenlooper ordered drawn up in 2013 to address a water-supply gap of 560,000 acre-feet of water by 2050. For perspective, the state’s largest impoundment, Blue Mesa Reservoir, contains about 830,000 acre-feet when full.
As the drafters have tackled the storage section of the plan, it’s become clear that the state could increase its water storage significantly simply by looking anew at existing dams, water official James Eklund said.
There are “about 100,000 acre-feet that could be snatched up pretty quickly” without so much as turning a shovel, Eklund said.
Many dams were originally constructed in an abundance of caution to contain more water than they actually have, Eklund said.
Taking the additional storage into account “could produce a new chunk of water” that could be held back in reservoirs, Eklund said.
Eklund is to unveil the entire plan Nov. 19 at History Colorado in Denver, just under a month ahead of schedule. It was ordered to be complete by Dec. 10.
The plan will contain several objectives that, if reached, would move the state toward filling the gap between the demands of 5 million more Coloradans by 2050 and the amount of water available within the state.
Among the goals are increasing municipal and industrial conservation by 400,000 acre-feet per year and boosting to 50,000 acre-feet annually the amount of water involved in voluntary alternative transfer projects, up from 3,000 acre-feet annually now.