Feds seek measures to offset Colorado River supply challenges | SkyHiNews.com

Feds seek measures to offset Colorado River supply challenges

Leia Larsen
The Colorado River flows through Hot Sulphur Springs on Wednesday, May 29. Byron Hetzler/Sky-Hi News
Byron Hetzler/Sky-Hi News | Sky-Hi News

The Bureau of Reclamation met with environmental groups, Indian tribes and governmental stakeholders to consider how to move forward with the Colorado River Basin’s unsteady future.

The “Moving Forward” event, held Tuesday, May 28, in San Diego, came after the U.S. Department of Interior announced $8.2 million in funding projects under the WaterSMART program. Reclamation and scientists project significant shortfalls in the coming decades. WaterSMART will work to augment water supplies, conserve and reuse existing water, and plan for the future of the seven states that depend on the Colorado watershed.

The meeting was especially poignant as drought continues to grip much of the Southwest.

A 2012 Colorado River Basin study showed that while a rising population in the basin contributed to greater demand, the greatest imbalance comes from reduced supplies caused by climate change.

“While everybody knows that this problem can’t be solved solely by the cities because we use a relatively small percentage of Colorado River water, that fact does not absolve us from our duty to use this resource responsibly and do our part,” said Denver Water CEO/Manager Jim Lochhead, in statements released on May 29.

For now, Reclamation’s steps for the move forward will be studying municipal water conservation, agricultural water conservation and environmental flows in the river. Three working groups will conduct the studies. Officials expect updated results by the end of the year.

Reporter Leia Larsen can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19603

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