Water conservation again stressed for state | VailDaily.com

Water conservation again stressed for state

Donna Gray

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Conservation will be the key to ensuring Colorado has enough water to go around over the next 30 years. That was the conclusion of the Colorado Water Conservation Board’s State Water Supply Initiative that looked at the future of the resource in Colorado. With prudent conservation, present water supplies can meet 80 percent of projected demand in 2030, the report found. But the 20 percent gap is troubling. The Colorado River Basin is expected to have the highest population growth and high demand for water for diverse uses, said Rick Brown, project manager for the water conservation board.The report also found there are “localized shortages in all the basins,” said Kelly DiNatale, of Camp, Dresser & McKee Inc., which consults with the water conservation board on the initiative. Only those people with very senior water rights will have enough supply.Some of the worst scenarios that could play out over the next 30 years are in areas of the state where irrigation taps groundwater resources. In the San Luis Valley in southern Colorado, “they’re using unsustainable amounts of water and irrigating more (agricultural) lands,” DiNatale said.Among the challenges of planning for future demand are the changing uses of water in the state. Recreational uses such as rafting and snow-making for ski areas put additional demands on the supply, Brown said, and compete with more traditional uses such as municipal and industrial water supplies.Also at issue, especially in the Colorado River Basin, are relatively recent demands to ensure water levels to protect threatened and endangered fish species.Colorado’s obligation to downstream states on the Colorado River, as well as diversions between river basins within the state, are accounted for in the study, Brown said.But the state’s continuing drought, which is difficult to predict, could affect the 20 percent gap.Vail, Colorado

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