Water Conservation Districts Plan For The Worst

Sep 23, 2014

Colorado River
Credit Joshua M via Flickr (CC-BY)

With monsoon season passing us, it might be easy to forget that Colorado and the entire Colorado River are in the middle of a long drought.  14 years long. 

With seemingly no end in sight, two water conservation districts, the Colorado River and Southwestern Water Conservation District, teamed up to come up with a plan in case things don’t get better.  Jim Pokrandt is with the Colorado River District.

"The first thing to do is move water from the lakes of Flaming Gorge, Blue Mesa, and Navajo down into Lake Powell to try to keep levels high enough so it doesn't fall below power.  It's just moving the location of the storage," says Pokrandt.

"When we get into demand management, that is the last thing we do because that's the most hurtful to water users.  When we do management, [we have to make sure] that it takes in not just Western Slope agriculture but Front Range agriculture and municipal water users on both sides," said Pokrandt, "so everybody shares the pain if it comes to that."

The first priority will be the cloud seeding and tearing up of riverside plants.  Regulating use and limiting how much people can have is more of a last, drastic step.  These are also just recommendations, incase this 14 year drought goes on for another 14 years.  As Jim points out, water planning and conservation is no simple subject. 

"For most people, you turn on your spigot and water comes out.  That's all they know and care about, and that's OK, but there's a whole big world of complexity, politics, money, and legalisms that lie behind western Colorado water supply," says Pokrandt.