Water for Colorado’s 21st century economy | Denver-gazette

Water has always helped the development of the government, the environment, and the lives of the people living in the country. Coloradoans know that water is one of the cornerstones of our unique mix of economic drivers: outdoor recreation, agriculture, advanced industries and thriving cities.

However, driven by immigration, Colorado is expected to continue to experience significant growth, particularly along the Front Range, the I-70 corridor and southwest Colorado. By 2050, Colorado’s population is expected to rise to 7.5 million, an increase of 1.7 million.

This comes at a time when the pressure on the state’s water supply will continue to increase. Interstate agreements signed decades ago legally bind Colorado to share water with the lower reaches, even as Colorado’s climate gets hotter and drier, and we’re facing declining rivers. The statistics of Colorado’s most populated river, the South Platte, which supplies water to the great city of Denver, the cities of the northern Front Range, and most of the agriculture in Colorado, confirm this. While water flows are expected to decrease by 34% by 2090, the State Water Plan calls for a 55% increase in population by 2050 under business as usual conditions.

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The stakes are high. In 2019, the state of Colorado estimated that the consequences of not meeting future water needs would cost the state between 355,000 and 587,000 jobs and reduce state and federal tax revenue by between $3.4 billion and $6 billion. Action is needed from federal, state and local governments, along with businesses, municipal water providers, and private citizens.

Our goals when we accepted the challenges as 2022 Terry J. Stevenson Fellows at the Common Sense Institute were to work together, look at our differences, and present a joint paper that looks at the problems facing the future of Colorado’s water and offers possible solutions. Our report: “Transforming Colorado’s Water Systems for a 21st Century Economy and Water Supply,” was just released this week, and in keeping with the nature of the fellowship, it offers six calls to action:

Colorado has to do more with less water; Reducing competition for water will require more regional cooperation and planning to manage, share, and reuse available water.

The cost of getting fresh water on the Front Range is skyrocketing, making it difficult for developers to provide affordable housing. In order to manage costs, communities need to implement maintenance and control measures such as removing and replacing landscaping.

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There is a water supply problem on the Colorado River. In addition to meeting water needs on the West Slope, trans-basin diversions are a major source of water for Front Range Cities from Pueblo to Ft. Collins. A large portion of our Colorado River resources are at risk. The government should take steps to stabilize the existing water supply and be prepared to use less from the river in the future.

Saving agricultural water is becoming more difficult, yet very important, showing that there is a need to do something to save water for a long time for agriculture. Solutions include prioritizing regional cooperation and increasing financial support for farmers who invest in water-saving technologies.

Action is needed to increase the resilience of critical aquatic ecosystems, aquatic habitats, and recreational activities. In particular, the capacity of the project should be increased to improve the flow of water for the enjoyment of the water and to improve the flow of water.

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Colorado should be a leader in developing cooperative projects in the state, as well as neighboring states. Government and water leaders should be open to allowing greater flexibility within the rules to open the door to new jobs.

Our full report also outlines additional recommendations in the state and basins that should educate, inform, and empower citizens about what needs to be done in this regard. The combination of climate change, population growth, and the integration of central and lower countries means that the state will have less water to use in the future. However, with smart solutions, it can work within the framework of existing laws to change our water supply in Colorado so that it can grow and prosper for years to come.

Erik Kuhn and Jennifer Gimbel are Terry J. Stevinson Fellows at the Common Sense Institute, a nonpartisan research organization dedicated to protecting and improving Colorado’s economy.

Erik Kuhn and Jennifer Gimbel are Terry J. Stevinson Fellows at the Common Sense Institute, a nonpartisan research organization dedicated to protecting and improving Colorado’s economy.


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