The federal government and municipal water providers in four Western states have reached an agreement to fund Colorado River conservation projects.
The $11 million deal was announced Thursday. Municipal water providers in Arizona, California, Nevada and Colorado and the Bureau of Reclamation have agreed to fund projects to conserve Colorado River water.
Denver Water CEO Jim Lockhead said Denver is one of the four municipalities participating in the program.
Lockhead said half of Denver’s water supply comes from the Colorado River.
The drought-stricken Colorado River Basin is drying up faster than was thought, according to a recent study.
NASA and the University of California, Irvine used satellite data gathered over a nine year period to track changes in the mass of the Colorado River Basin that has been experiencing severe drought since 2000.
The scientists looked at monthly measurements between December 2004 and November 2013. They found the basin lost nearly 53 million acre feet of freshwater, that's nearly double the volume of Lake Mead, the nation's largest reservoir, during that period. The study said about 41 million acre feet of that lost water was groundwater.
The basin provides water to millions of people in seven Western states: Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado. It also supplies water to roughly four million acres of farmland.
A complex series of agreements govern the distribution of water throughout the state. Along the Colorado River, farms, cities & towns, and the recreation industry are all big players. But everyone takes a backseat to a tiny hydroelectric plant that’s over one hundred years old. It’s the Shoshone Generating Station, and it plays a critical role on the Upper Colorado.