Colorado River Water Shortage for Western States Foreseen in U.S. Study

The three-year study was conducted by the Bureau of Reclamation and released Wednesday.

The Colorado River won’t be able to support the growing population of Western states including California, says a federal study released Wednesday.

The study—conducted by the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation over the course of three years—says the river will be an estimated 3.2 million acre-feet short of meeting demand by 2060.

The shortage amount would support roughly 3 million households.

The study—which examines how Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming will be affected—projects that 76.5 million people will rely on the Colorado River Basin by 2060.

Currently, 40 million people benefit from the river.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said stakeholders will need to plan and collaborate to prepare for the change.

“There’s no silver bullet to solve the imbalance between the demand for water and the supply in the Colorado River Basin over the next 50 years—rather, it’s going to take diligent planning and collaboration from all stakeholders to identify and move forward with practical solutions,” he said in a statement.

“Water is the lifeblood of our communities, and this study provides a solid platform to explore actions we can take toward a sustainable water future. While not all of the proposals included in the study are feasible, they underscore the broad interest in finding a comprehensive set of solutions.”

The study—authorized by Congress and jointly funded by the seven basin states—includes more than 150 proposals to solve the supply and demand imbalances. Proposals include increasing water supply through reuse or desalinization methods, and reducing demand through increased conservation and efficiency efforts.

The Colorado River Basin is described as one of the “most critical” sources of water in the western United States.

The river supplies water to irrigate nearly 4 million acres of land, and is also the lifeblood for at least 22 Native American tribes, seven national wildlife refuges, four national recreation areas and 11 national parks, according to the study.

The full report is available at Usbr.gov/lc/region/programs/crbstudy.html.

4th Of July December 14, 2012 at 07:53 AM
We need to practice sustainability within our own areas. Not depend on getting water from elsewhere. Anyone who decides to expand based on expectations on outside water supplies is making a poor gamble, and will have to pay up someday. If you don't have the supply right here to build, don't build it.
Dex December 14, 2012 at 05:36 PM
Try telling that to the developers, and the cities that profit from the expansion. Yet they keep on building, and building these huge subdevelopments without a care as to where the water will come from in the future. The agencies have been warning us for years as to the dismal condition of the Colorado river, and our water resources, but no one seems to be paying any attention as long as the money is flowing. I personally think Beaumont overbuilt a bit in the mid 2000's when the economy was hot (so many foreclosures on the books right now) and Beaumont has another 19,000 dwellings planned for future development....where in the heck is this water supposed to come from?
Rigo Rodriguez December 14, 2012 at 07:31 PM
Even with sustainable development how do you control per capita consumption? It's customary attitudes about water. In general majority of Angelenos see and treat water as an infinite product.
Michael Berenh December 14, 2012 at 08:36 PM
Is anyone familiar with this approach by a company called Two Rivers Water Company (stock symbol - TURV). Here is their profile: Two Rivers Water Company acquires and develops irrigated farmland and associated water rights in the Arkansas River watershed, primarily along the Huerfano and Cucharas Rivers, in southeastern Colorado. Its combined watershed encompasses approximately 1,860 square miles and extends from the eastern crest of the Continental Divide in the Spanish Peaks and Sangre de Christo Mountains to the Huerfano River’s confluence with the Arkansas River, downstream of Pueblo, Colorado. The company owns approximately 5,000 gross acres of irrigable farmland within the watershed of the Huerfano and Cucharas Rivers; and farmable acreage of 713 acres. It also secures additional water rights; rehabilitates water diversion, conveyance, and storage facilities; and develops special water districts. The company was formerly known as Navidec Financial Services, Inc. and changed its name to Two Rivers Water Company in November 2009. Two Rivers Water Company was founded in 2002 and is headquartered in Denver, Colorado.
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