Water supply challenges for CO

RBC I Colorado faces significant water supply challenges now and in the coming decades as population continues to grow and competition for water intensifies, according to the Statewide Water Supply Initiative (SWSI) 2010 report approved Wednesday by the Colorado Water Conservation Board.
The report finds that if water use follows current trends, large supplies will inevitably be shifted away from agricultural uses, resulting in 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.
The report’s overall key finding states that providing an adequate water supply for Colorado’s citizens, agriculture and the environment will involve implementing 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.
The report is also significant because it presents a statewide view of Colorado’s water supply situation today and in the future, bringing context beyond other analyses that often focus on specific cities, regions or economic sectors. The SWSI 2010 report updates the initial SWSI report produced in 2004, which identified water needs to 2030.
“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.
The report also includes recommendations on next steps for how Colorado can address water supply needs today and in the coming decades. The over-arching recommendation states that water planners and stakeholders should enter an “implementation phase” to identify and pursue projects and methods to help meet the state’s water supply needs for people and the environment. How to accomplish that is laid out in 16 recommendations.
The report as well as a summary of key findings is available at the Colorado Water Conservation Board website, http://cwcb.state.co.us
For more information about Colorado Water Conservation Board go to: http://cwcb.state.co.us.