Water agencies affirm commitment to lessen demand on Colorado River

More than 30 agencies in the Colorado River Basin plan to “implement comprehensive and innovative” steps to reduce their demand for water.

More than 30 municipal and public water providers in the upper and lower Colorado River Basin have committed to reducing water demand.

The consortium of municipal and public providers has listed several conservation plans in a memorandum of understanding delivered to Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Camille Touton.

The plans to reduce demand on the Colorado River include:

  • Expanding water efficiency programs for indoor and outdoor water use
  • Implementing programs and policies reducing and replacing non-functional, decorative grass by 30% while protecting urban landscapes and tree canopies
  • Increasing water reuse and recycling programs where feasible
  • Implementing water efficiency strategies and best practices, such as water loss controls, conservation-based rate structures, industrial and commercial conservation, land use coordination and other suitable conservation strategies within each community

Agencies from California to Colorado have signed the memorandum, including the Southern Nevada Water Authority [SNWA].

“As we consider the long-term aridification of the Colorado River Basin, the math is simple: water uses exceed water supplies,” says John Entsminger, general manager of SNWA. “But solving that equation will require all Colorado River water users across every sector to make hard decisions and be fully invested in water conservation if we are going to bring our shared river system into balance.”

The memorandum points to critically low levels of water in Lake Mead and Lake Powell, as well as climate change, as the driving causes behind the need for a “redoubling” of conservation efforts.

“The significance of nearly 30 municipal and industrial providers of Colorado River water signing on to this agreement is truly historic,” says Gene Shawcroft, general manager of the Central Utah Water Conservancy District. “The commitments of municipal and industrial water agencies in both the Upper and Lower Colorado River Basins toward a unified approach to problem-solving is critical in light of the current drought conditions and historic low reservoir elevations confronting the basin. I hope this agreement will provide an example of effective Basin-wide collaboration on the many Colorado River issues we face now and into the future.”

Ron Burke, CEO and president of the Alliance for Water Efficiency, composed a letter to Department of the Interior Secretary Deb Haaland as well as Commissioner Touton applauding the efforts of the water agencies.

“A sustainable, long-term plan for the Colorado River Basin requires all water users to reduce water demand commensurate with what the Colorado River can realistically supply given the new normal of hotter, drier weather,” says Burke. “To this end, the Alliance for Water Efficiency commends the commitments from local water providers to expand water efficiency and conservation programs.”

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