Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar released a study that projects water supply and demand imbalances throughout the Colorado River Basin and adjacent areas over the next 50 years. The Colorado River Basin Water Supply and Demand Study, the first of its kind, also includes a wide array of adaptation and mitigation strategies proposed by stakeholders and the public to address the projected imbalances.
One acre-foot of water is approximately the amount of water used by a single household in a year. This study projects the average imbalance in future supply and demand to be greater than 3.2 million acre-feet by 2060. The largest increase in demand will come from municipal and industrial
users, owing to population growth. The Colorado River Basin currently
provides water to some 40 million people, and the study estimates that
this number could nearly double to approximately 76.5 million people by
2060, under a rapid growth scenario.
“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. Although not all of the proposals included in the study are
feasible, they underscore the broad interest in finding a comprehensive
set of solutions." said Secretary Salazar.
“This study is one of a number of ongoing basin studies that Reclamation
is undertaking through Interior’s WaterSMART Program,” said Assistant
Secretary for Water and Science Anne Castle. “These analyses pave the
way for stakeholders in each basin to come together and determine their
own water destiny. This study is a call to action, and we look forward
to continuing this collaborative approach as we discuss next steps.”
WaterSMART is Interior’s sustainable water initiative and focuses on
using the best available science to improve water conservation and help
water-resource managers identify strategies to narrow the gap between
supply and demand.
The Colorado River Basin is one of the most critical sources of water in
the western United States. The Colorado River and its tributaries
provide water to about 40 million people for municipal use; supply water
used to irrigate nearly 4 million acres of land, and is also the
lifeblood for at least 22 Native American tribes, 7 National Wildlife
Refuges, 4 National Recreation Areas, and 11 National Parks.
Throughout the course of the three-year study, eight interim reports
were published to reflect technical developments and public input.
Public comments are encouraged on the final study over the next 90 days;
comments will be summarized and posted to the website for consideration
in future basin planning activities.
The full study – including a discussion of the methodologies and levels of uncertainty – is available at www.usbr.gov/lc/region/programs/crbstudy.html.
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