Friday, November 20, 2015

Colorado unveils plan to manage water amid drought, demand

he snow that falls on the Colorado mountains melts into trillions of gallons of water every year, and most of it flows downstream to Mexico, California and 17 other states. Colorado released its first plan Thursday to cope with increasing competition for that water as the West grows drier. The plan sets conservation goals, outlines ways to share water during droughts and suggests ways to preserve the environment, recreation and agriculture while accommodating rapid population growth. It also has contentious elements, including a suggestion to increase water storage, which usually means building dams and reservoirs. The plan doesn't have teeth - it will be up to state and local governments, water utilities, irrigation districts and others to provide the money and muscle to make it work. But it won praise as a good step toward preparing for inevitable shortages. Why is it important?  Almost 4.6 trillion gallons of water rushes out of Colorado's mountains each year as the winter snow melts. Two-thirds of it belongs to downstream users under a collection of international treaties, interstate agreements and court rulings. Colorado gets the rest. "Strategic planning for Colorado is strategic planning for the West," said James Eklund, director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board, which wrote the water plan.  Four significant rivers originate in the state: the Colorado, the Rio Grande, the Platte and the Arkansas. The Colorado River supplies water to about 40 million people and 6,300 square miles of farmland in seven states...more

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