We now know how many billions of gallons of water Colorado will save by closing coal-fired power plants
By 2031 water use for coal-fired power plants in Colorado will drop to 3.7 billion gallons – a 68% reduction, according to the Energy and Policy Institute
The closing of 30 coal-fired generating units across the West – including 10 in Colorado – could free-up more than 76 billion gallons of river and groundwater a year in the increasingly parched region, although utilities appear cautious about giving up their water rights.
An analysis by the Energy and Policy Institute, a non-profit, utility industry watchdog group, found that there were potential water savings in seven western states – Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Nevada Montana and Wyoming – where coal plant closures are set to close over the next 10 years.
“The savings are significant in every state,” said Joe Smyth, the author of the analysis. The biggest savings could come in the Upper Colorado River Basin where power plants used an average of 53 billion gallons of water a year between 1991 and 2018.
As some of the smaller power plants in the basin have already closed, 2018 water consumption was 11% below the 1991-2018 average, according to U.S. Bureau of Reclamation data.
Twenty-one of the units scheduled to close use water from rivers, including the Yellowstone, the Green, San Juan, Laramie, North Platte, Yampa and Arkansas. Nine plants, including one in Colorado, use groundwater.
“The value of the water depends upon where it is,” said Stacy Tellinghuisen, senior climate policy analyst with Western Resource Advocates. “Does it have uses for growing cities, or environmental benefits, or agricultural benefits? It will be dependent on location.”
“Public utility commissions across the West should consider those water resources,” Tellinghuisen said.
Read the rest of the story here.
The Colorado Sun is a reader-supported news organization dedicated to covering the people, places and policies that matter in Colorado. Read more, sign up for free newsletters and subscribe at coloradosun.com.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
The Sky-Hi News strives to deliver powerful stories that spark emotion and focus on the place we live.
Over the past year, contributions from readers like you helped to fund some of our most important reporting, including coverage of the East Troublesome Fire.
If you value local journalism, consider making a contribution to our newsroom in support of the work we do.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User
Rocky Mountain National Park closed Trail Ridge Road to through traffic on Monday for the remainder of the season.