Click the link to read the article on the KRDO website (Mallory Anderson). Here’s an excerpt:
A draft of the 2023 Colorado Water Plan has been released and outlines what the state needs to do in order to conserve resources as rivers, lakes, and reservoirs dry up…
A new analysis by the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) says up to 740,000 additional acre-feet of water could be needed by 2050 to meet community and industrial demands. For agriculture, an even bigger number. An estimated 2.6 to 3.5 million acre-feet of water is needed.
“I think we’re presenting a very honest view of where things are at,” said Russ Sands, Section Chief for Water Supply Planning with the Colorado Water Conservation Board. “It’s going to be tough. We can’t change things like mega-fires. We can’t stop the drought. But, we can do a lot of things to work together to mitigate the worst impacts of what is headed our way.”
A major way the Colorado Water Plan hopes to mitigate impacts is through local projects the CWCB is ready to give grants to…The Water Plan estimates that $20 billion is needed to address the water crisis…Despite the high price, the CWCB is staying positive when looking towards the future of water in our state…Public comment is now open for the Water Plan draft and closes on September 30, 2022.
The plan contains no silver bullet for the challenges facing cities, farms, forests, recreation and conservation areas in the state. It does lay out the challenges and points toward potential solutions to a future far shorter on water than what the recent past has experienced.
As noted in a quotation from former Colorado Justice Gregory Hobbs in a preamble to the document, “The 21st Century is the era of limits made applicable to water decision making. Due to natural western water scarcity, we are no longer developing a resource. Instead, we are learning how to share a developed resource.”
The plan picks up Hobbs’ “sharing” advice with a call for greater collaboration between the water basins and water decision makers in the state and beyond.
Headwinds in the use of Colorado water include multiple factors:
The population is growing. It’s nearly 6 million now and will be 8.5 million by 2050. Nineteen other states plus Mexico also depend upon water that originates in Colorado. It’s getting hotter. Average temperatures are up 2 degrees Fahrenheit in the past 30 years. Rainfall is coming less often. It’s been below average since 2000.
Yet some progress in meeting challenges has been made, the report said.
Conservation efforts have reduced per capita water consumption by 5% since 2000. Cities have worked collaboratively to lease 25,000 acre feet of agricultural water since then, instead of buying-and-drying. About 400,000 acre feet of storage has been created since the turn of the century, too.