Colorado River Water Users Association Concurs With Joint Study

Joint Study Released by Basin States and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation 

Water Efficiency, Friday, December 14, 2012

LAS VEGAS (December 12) – Member agencies of the Colorado River Water Users Association (CRWUA) concur with the findings of a new joint study released by the seven Colorado River Basin States and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which outlines a number of options to reduce the potential impacts of water shortages on the river system through 2060.

CRWUA members are considering a resolution concurring with the results of the Study at their annual conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Resolution describes the study as the most thorough analysis of current and projected water supply and demand conducted to date. The Study projects a range of potential imbalances and identifies options and strategies to address the gap between supply and demand. It serves as an important document in guiding future planning efforts for the Colorado River system, which is the lifeblood for the southwest United States and all CRWUA members.

High and dry on Colorado River tributary

In particular, the study incorporates the latest scientific information available which estimates the effects of climate change on Colorado River flows. The results demonstrate the Colorado River system is vulnerable to water supply reductions that would result from a drier and warmer climate.

The study evaluated forty-eight scenarios related to supply and demand in the Basin. The long-term projected median imbalance derived from water demand and water supply projections is about 3.2 million acre-feet per year by 2060.

Given the scope and geographic distribution of the shortages cited in the study, no single solution will adequately address the shortfall. The study outlines a range of options and strategies that includes conservation, extensive water reuse, and system augmentation to help address projected water supply and demand imbalances.

Together with the Basin States and Reclamation, CRWUA members are investigating all options identified in the study and are committed to measures that maintain the Law of the River and promote cooperation amongst all of the users of the Colorado River system. CRWUA members are committed to those solutions that offer the greatest potential to address the future gap between supply and demand.

While some may view urban water conservation as the primary solution to demand shortages, it alone cannot eliminate supply and demand deficits; baseline municipal demands must be protected, especially during times of drought. Likewise agricultural conservation programs have been identified as a significant part of the solution and should be expanded, but they are but one part of the overall solution.

A number of regional solutions, such as water banking in the Lower Basin, are in place and need to continue. The Upper Basin states will evaluate the possibility of a similar mechanism through an Upper Basin water bank to reduce Upper Basin deficits. Desalination and other forms of importation and augmentation will also play an important role in the solution.

The Basin Study has again demonstrated to Reclamation and the Basin States the great interest in the future of the Colorado River by a wide variety of stakeholders—municipal and industrial users, tribes, agricultural users, recreational entities, power providers, environmental organizations and conservation groups. Together with Reclamation and the Basin States, CRWUA members will continue to work with key stakeholders to investigate and implement water supply solutions and recommendations identified in the comprehensive study.

For more information on the study http://www.usbr.gov/lc/region/programs/crbstudy.html

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