#Colorado’s water shortages are already here and getting worse, according to updated state #water plan — KUNC

Blue Mesa Reservoir is the largest storage facility in Colorado in the Upper Colorado River system. Prolonged drought and downriver demand is shrinking the reservoir. Credit: Tom Wood, Water Desk

Click the link to read the article on the KUNC website (Luke Runyon and Alex Hager). Here’s an excerpt:

Colorado’s water shortages are not relegated to the distant future. Water supplies cannot meet current demands in many communities, and are only likely to worsen as climate change heats up and dries out the state’s cities and farms. That message is front and center in the Colorado Water Conservation Board’s first draft of a comprehensive update to the Colorado Water Plan, originally passed in 2015. Its initial creation was spurred by then-governor John Hickenlooper.

The plan anticipates a supply-demand gap of 240,000 to 740,000 acre-feet for cities and industries by 2050…For agricultural users, shortages are already a way of life. The plan projects that an existing shortfall of 2.6 million acre-feet for farmers and ranchers could increase to 3.5 million acre-feet by the middle of this century.

The plan is candid about the harsh effects of climate change, and the likelihood that Colorado’s water future will be shaped by warming and drying patterns. This includes acknowledgements of “aridification” – the idea that the West is not just experiencing the normal ebb and flow of drought, but instead becoming permanently drier. Climate scientists broadly agree that rising temperatures are driving a batch of changes that result in a shrinking water supply for much of the Southwest.

Click the link to read a release on the Water for Colorado website:

Today, the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) released the draft update of the Colorado Water Plan for a 90-day public comment period. The plan, originally developed in 2015 under the direction of Governor John Hickenlooper, is meant to address growing water scarcity in Colorado and ensure the state has a sustainable water future that meets the needs of a wide range of water uses by all Coloradans. In response to the release of the updated plan, Water for Colorado has issued the following statement.

“We appreciate all of the hard work by CWBC staff and board members and Department of Natural Resources to prepare a draft update to the Colorado Water Plan. We have already begun our thorough and detailed review and we look forward to providing comments. Our coalition was founded seven years ago to help influence the development of the 2015 Water Plan through providing technical review and driving civic engagement. We will submit comments and engage in a robust conversation with stakeholders on how we can best protect Colorado’s watersheds and rivers for all Coloradans and for future generations. ​​We look to this Water Plan update to improve water security throughout the state by equitably addressing many of our watershed and water conservation needs.

This revision of the Colorado Water Plan will certainly play an important role in advancing our water goals throughout the state. But it alone will not be sufficient to meet the growing water challenges we face. This was further emphasized by recent statements by federal officials about the need for substantial water reductions by all states and in all water sectors to avoid critically low levels in the Colorado River basin’s largest reservoirs. Worsening hydrology and increased demands placed on dwindling water resources guarantee that additional, urgent actions will need to be taken to ensure a secure water future for Colorado. Governor Polis has called 2022 the “year of water” for Colorado, and we look forward to working with Governor Polis and his administration, other elected officials, Basin Roundtables, and communities on the critically important issues facing our state in 2022 and beyond. We must meet this pivotal moment in a way that positions Colorado as a leader in collaborative water management — our state’s future depends on it.”

The coalition has spokespeople available for comment now and in the coming 90 days, during which both partner organizations and the public have a vital opportunity to ensure that their voices are heard, that their interests are considered, and that Colorado’s water plan is truly that — a plan for the entire state.

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