From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):
State water officials say that results of a Colorado River basin study do not support the conclusion that there is no more water in the river to develop. After the Bureau oyf Reclamation released the study last year, environmental groups have portrayed it as meaning the Colorado River is out of water, but that’s not the case, said Jennifer Gimbel, executive director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board.
“What’s important about it is that it’s a planning study that’s meant to be a tool for folks as they look at the river,” Gimbel told the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District board last week. “You can play it any way you want it, and some have. They say, ‘a pipeline is impossible,’ or ‘we’re running out of water.’ ” In reality, the lower basin states in the Colorado River Compact (Arizona, California and Nevada) have used their full allocation of water, while upper basin states (Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming) still could claim water from the river.
“The lower basin is done with its compact allocation, and on occasion they use some of ours,” she said.
Ted Kowalski, who specializes in Colorado River issues for the CWCB, pointed to Colorado’s own studies which found that up to 900,000 acre-feet annually within Colorado could be allocated. The states have been working cooperatively to manage the risk of shortages, which have never occurred under the compact, Kowalski said. “Strategies like water banking would reduce the likelihood of shortages,” he added.
Gimbel added that the study did not take into account that cities that export water from the Colorado River like Los Angeles, Denver and Salt Lake City might find other sources of water to better manage the risks.
“We have a variable climate in Colorado,” said Alan Hamel, the CWCB representative from the Arkansas River basin. “We shouldn’t give up on developing our Colorado River entitlement.”