Monday, June 21, 2010

Colorado faces a water deficit

Bruce Finley in the Denver Post: Colorado River water consumed yearly for agriculture and by the 30 million Westerners who rely on it now exceeds the total annual flow. A growing awareness of that limited flow is leading to increased scrutiny of urban development — especially projects that require diverting more water to the east side of the Continental Divide.

"We're no longer in a surplus situation," said Bill McDonald, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation's deputy commissioner for policy and budget. "The teeter-totter has tipped." Federal data show that the average annual use of Colorado River water (15.4 million acre-feet) has surpassed the average annual supply (14.5 million acre-feet) in the river.

Factor in climate change — state officials project a 10 percent or greater reduction in water available — and the specter of scarcity looms even higher. "We actually have run up against what the river provides," said Bart Miller, water program director for Western Resource Advocates, a law and policy firm. "Our choices moving forward have to be very careful ones. Brand new uses are going to have to be displacing other uses."

…"Just because the Colorado River as a whole is overused" doesn't necessarily prevent development in Colorado, said Eric Kuhn, manager of the Colorado River Water Conservation District. "The lower states (California, Nevada, Arizona) are using far more than the upper states." Yet authorities here increasingly ask questions.

…"The state is at that critical juncture where demand is starting to outstrip available water supplies," [veteran water lawyer Glenn] Porzak said. "Either you need to think about limiting development, or you are going to see massive conversions of agriculture to municipal use. It is going to be a trade-off. The day of reckoning is coming."…

The start of the west Tonto Trail and the end of the Royal Arch Route along the Colorado River. Shot by Gonzo fan2007, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative CommonsAttribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

1 comment:

janet said...

Water deficit is a big problem.I know about the situation of Colorado in your blog saw.