@COWaterPlan implementation: “Goodbye to the carrot method. Bring out the stick” — Jim Martin

Colorado Water Plan website screen shot November 1, 2013

From The Boulder Daily Camera (Jim Martin):

This is a call for action: We need a real Colorado water plan, and we need it now. Between the state’s rapidly increasing population and rising global warming, it’s projected that Colorado will run out of water by 2050.

Predictions say by then, the state’s population will have grown from 5.5 million now to 10.3 million, and there’ll be a statewide water shortage of over 1 million acre-feet per year. One acre-foot equals about 323,000 gallons, enough to cover Mile High Stadium between the end zones with one foot of water or to supply four families for one year.

Yes, the state spent $6 million to create a water plan in 2015, checking in at 540 pages of whatever. No, it did not offer a plan. All it did was give us general ideas, but no specific way forward.

What is it going to take for us to take this issue seriously? How do we convince our state government to stop toweling off and get back in the game? Goodbye to the carrot method. Bring out the stick. Here are some ideas for conserving more water:

I recommend that all Colorado residents demand action from the state’s leadership to pass legislation that requires mandatory water conservation. We lag behind other Western states in this, particularly Nevada, California and Arizona. Make it easy for all Colorado residents to learn about practicing more efficient water use, just as the state did when it promoted the expansion of recycling practices…

Front Range residents forget about the rest of the state. But know that some of its regions, particularly the southeast, experience drought nearly every year. It gets little attention because it doesn’t happen in the Denver metro area. Drought can be caused by inadequate snowpack and rainfall, and rising temperatures. Why do you think our TV weather forecasters put up graphics about reservoir levels?

Have you heard of greywater? It’s the mostly clean wastewater produced by baths, sinks, washing machines and dishwashers, plus “green infrastructure,” with stormwater runoff used to irrigate natural vegetation. In Colorado, new homes are allowed to recycle gray water, but it’s not allowed for existing homes. Let’s reverse that and allow existing homes to recycle greywater.

It’s going to cost money, but let’s line ditches with state-of-the-art materials, such as synthetics that don’t crack. There’s so much water seepage from ditches, and that water never joins the state’s supply. Lining ditches with synthetic materials can reduce, if not eliminate, seepage.

Farmers, instead of flood irrigating, need to look at irrigation at the ground level. That makes water use more efficient by putting it right into the root system of plants, etc.

We have too much Kentucky bluegrass, exploiting our unrealistic expectations of Colorado’s semi-arid climate. We should not expect to maintain the lush grass lawns and landscaping that many of us grew up with back in our native states. We should encourage more xeriscaping, and perhaps put a 15 percent cap on how much of one’s landscaping can be grass and plants.

Make it mandatory to teach about water conservation starting in middle school. Show students that we can meet the difficult challenge of maintaining a healthy water supply.

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