Statewide study says conservation, re-use and new storage all needed as population continues to grow
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Colorado’s population is expected to double in the next 40 years, with the fastest growth on the West Slope setting up more water woes for the state, which relies on a complex network of reservoirs and diversions to distribute the resource to where it’s needed.
Altogether, the state will need 600,000 to 1 million acre-feet of additional water by 2050, according to an update of the Statewide Water Supply Initiative recently completed by the Colorado Water Conservation Board. The estimate includes new water demands from population growth, energy and other needs (including oil shale), and replacement of non-tributary groundwater.
State water planners continue to look at the Colorado River as a supply, with the report referencing a Colorado River Water Availability Study that shows the Colorado River system as potentially having water available to meet future needs.
In adopting the report, the CWCB said meeting that demand will require a mix of local water projects and processes, conservation, reuse, agricultural transfers and the development of new water supplies, all of which should be pursued concurrently.
Without a long-term strategy, current trends will result in large supplies being shifted away from agricultural uses, with significant loss of farmlands, economic damage to the state’s agricultural regions and potential environmental harm. The report concludes that between 500,000 and 700,000 irrigated acres could be dried up by 2050.
“SWSI 2010 compiles information to develop a common understanding of existing and future water supplies and demands – for municipal, agricultural, industrial, environmental and other needs – throughout Colorado,” said Jennifer Gimbel, director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board, the state agency with the same name as the citizen board that governs it. “Used as a statewide planning tool, SWSI 2010 provides comprehensive information to water providers, state policy makers and the General Assembly as they take steps to map out a path forward for Colorado water.”
Key elements of the SWSI 2010 update include: analysis of water supply demands to 2050, a summary of environmental and recreational water needs in each basin, analysis of supply availability in the Colorado River Basin, steps needed to implement important projects and cost estimates associated with water supply strategies.
More information is available on the CWCB’s home page.
Filed under: agriculture, Colorado, Environment, rivers, Summit County Colorado, Summit County news Tagged: | Summit County News, water, Colorado water, Colorado Water Conservation Board, Statewide Water Supply Initiative, SWSI