Water has long been a topic of heated discussion in Colorado, and it is only becoming more heated as populations grow. Water is a natural resource that is valuable and necessary, even more so in a state where the bulk of residents live in a fairly dry area without replenishable water sources.
Colorado’s population is primarily in the eastern section of the state, in cities like Denver, Pueblo, and Colorado Springs. All three get the majority of their water from the western part of the state known as the Western Slope. Water comes from this area in both rainfall and in snow, with snowpack being the primary source of water for all urban areas. This water is saved in reservoirs, and then travels as far as two hundred miles to reach residents along the Front Range.
Population growth and droughts were the reason for a Colorado Water Plan to begin, and it has been in the works since 2012. This plan anticipates growth of upwards of ten million people in the next thirty-five years, along with a shrinking water supply. With Governor Hickenlooper looking for a concrete plan by December of 2015, the Colorado Water Plan is anticipated to come up with answers that satisfy everyone.
Challenges emerge between the two areas of the state. Citizens along the Western Slope depend on a large supply of water for their agricultural needs, personal use, and a large portion of the tourists that come into the area. Diverting substantial amounts of water to the Front Range and eastern area of the state could have disastrous effects on Western Slope residents. Understandably, there is substantial resistance to the possibly of water being sent east and economically harming the western area of Colorado.
This is where the Colorado Water Plan becomes important. Looking at collaborative ways to get water to all Colorado residents becomes increasingly important. This may involve diverting some water from the Western Slope to cities like Denver. It could also involve ideas such as diverting water from the Colorado River before it reaches neighboring states. Looking at all eight river basins in our state, to make sure that we are utilizing them to their full capacity, is also quite necessary.
Residents of the Western Slope and the Front Range are working together through the Colorado Water Plan to try to come up with collaborative ideas for water dispersement. Denver is moving some water that it owns into a Boulder Reservoir. Colorado Springs has come up with a plan to obtain a percentage of its water supply from somewhere other than the Western Slope snowfall. These plans work for the present, but do not stop the need for continuing action concerning future needs.
Collaboration concerning water between all areas of the state will only become more important in the future. As Colorado grows, balancing the need for water in our agricultural areas with the need for water in our growing cities will continue to be an important topic. Keeping up with what our leaders and representatives are doing in regards to water is important. Knowledge about water is every bit as important as being good stewards with our water usage!