Friday, April 27, 2012

Water a Key to Economic Sustainability

Since the 2002 drought, Coloradans have been especially supportive of the twin goals of water conservation and water storage.

After 10 years of sufficient moisture, including two recent very wet years where every reservoir was filled, Colorado is entering another period of drought.  Most water storage and development is initiated locally, and currently there is more than $3 billion in projects in construction or planning, mostly along the Front Range.

In recent years, the state has weighed in with a river basin grassroots process that has the state’s interest groups and interested citizens talking about the major collective decisions concerning protecting Colorado’s share of the Colorado River and stretching the water we have.

In a recent speech with the Southwestern Colorado Water Conservation District, reported in the Durango Herald, water leaders from the four corners came together to discuss the state’s effort.

“Colorado continues to grow, with an additional 4 to 5 million residents expected by 2050, Ciruli said.

If all identified water projects are completed, there still will be a gap between demand and supply of 190,000 acre-feet, he said.

The gap could be as much as 630,000 acre-feet if projects fall through, he said.

Projects are moving ahead, but the solution to satisfying demand will be a combination of conservation, storage, reuse and mostly new supplies, he said.

‘People are saying that it’s time for implementation,’ Ciruli said.  ‘It’s time to get moving.’

Ciruli cited a 2011 report by the Inter-Basin Compact Committee to the effect that a status quo approach won’t work.

Water storage, preserving agriculture and making sure Colorado water isn’t appropriated by other states are important to Colorado residents, Ciruli said.

‘There’s worry about out-of-state interests,’ Ciruli said.  ‘Polls show that residents want us to secure our water, to stay ahead of the problem.’”

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