Gov. Hickenlooper targets water conservation, dams for Colorado River
The Denver Post
COLORADO SPRINGS – Gov. John Hickenlooper dived into an intensifying debate over the imperiled Colorado River on Tuesday with a call for radically increased water conservation and an assertion that some new dams will be needed.
“We have lessons around the world that we can do more with less,” Hickenlooper said at a Colorado College conference, referring to Australian cities where residents cut average per capita consumption to 36 gallons a day and to Israel’s highly efficient use of water in agriculture.
Denver’s done better than most U.S. cities, with residents reducing use by 20 percent since 2002 to 160 gallons a day, but “we can make dramatic additional efforts,” Hickenlooper said.
“Our self-discipline in the amount of water we use is going to be the foundation of everything we will do,” he said.
Yet further drawdown of the over-subscribed Colorado River is continuing as state officials support two major projects that would divert more river water across the Continental Divide to sustain Front Range urban communities.
The Colorado River provides water for 30 million people in seven states and Mexico. However, the latest federal data show that current withdrawals exceed the annual supply. Climate change, drought and population growth in the West are worsening the situation as users try to share the river and still support farming, hydropower, tourism and ecosystems.
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