How businesses are investing in #Colorado’s #water future — GreenBiz

Some of the snowmelt flowing in the Blue River as it joins the Colorado River near Kremmling, Colo., will reach the Lower Basin states. Dec. 3, 2019. Credit: Mitch Tobin, the Water Desk

Click the link to read the deep-dive on Greebiz (Vanessa Vaughn). Here’s an excerpt:

From small businesses to Fortune 500 companies, it’s clear that companies of all shapes and sizes want to operate, expand and invest in the Centennial State. The high quality of life is no secret, and it remains a top reason why Colorado has had one of the fastest growing populations over the past decade. However, with growth comes added stress on its infrastructure. And one area where this is most apparent is the state’s blue infrastructure: water.

Businesses are starting to take note of the state’s water resources and the challenges facing western states. Climate change, drought, wildfires and population growth are stressing its water systems as never before. Record-low water levels made national headlines this year, leading to the first federally declared water shortage in the Colorado River Basin. In addition, outdated water policies have led to inefficient use of our resources and politically charged debates over who has control of water, often pitting Western Slope against Front Range.

Just how valuable is the Colorado River to the state? A 2014 study from Arizona State University measured the river’s economic impact and found that if Colorado River water was no longer available to residents, businesses, industry and agriculture for just one year, nearly 60 percent of Colorado’s gross state product — $189 billion — would be lost. More than 2 million jobs would also be gone, with the hardest-hit private sectors being healthcare and social services; professional, scientific and technical services; finance and insurance; retail trade; and real estate and rental…

Business for Water Stewardship helps companies large and small move beyond just reducing their water footprint by advancing collective action that accelerates real, measurable and lasting solutions for water, nature and business. “Right now, companies have the opportunity to be transformational leaders in water stewardship,” said Reeve. “The private sector can leverage its innovation and critical thinking to develop strategies for large-scale, system-wide changes that will address our complex water challenges.”

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The state has welcomed participation from the business community in developing the Colorado Water Plan, a blueprint with measurable objectives for water sustainability across the state. In fact, the Water Plan doesn’t work without them. Russ Sands, section chief of water supply planning for the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB), the state’s overseer of the plan, said the Water Plan is unique because of its inclusivity of stakeholders. “Everyone has a seat at the table, everyone is part of the conversation, and it is that collaboration that will make the Water Plan successful,” said Sands…

As a headwaters state, Colorado is the center of the West’s water crisis. It has the opportunity to be a model for the downstream states and the rest of the country, by demonstrating, through its actions and policies, how it is not only planning for the water it has right now but also preparing for an uncertain future, as climate change and a growing population continue to strain its water resources.

The business community is proving to be an emerging champion for advancing water conservation and restoration, and leveraging the resources of the private sector is helping to catalyze large-scale water solutions that benefit nature, businesses and communities.

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