Denver — Today, the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) released its August 24-month study, predicting continued dire conditions for reservoir levels throughout the Colorado River Basin. This comes on the heels of Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Camille Touton’s announcement earlier this summer that Colorado River Basin states must develop a plan to conserve 2 to 4 million acre-feet of water for 2023. The states have not yet announced a plan that specifically meets those goals.
In response, the Water for Colorado Coalition released the following statement:
“The Bureau’s latest forecast, while bleak, is no surprise. It confirms what we already know — without swift, responsible action, the Colorado River Basin is nearing a system-wide crash. Previous efforts to balance supply and demand in the Basin have been essential but insufficient to provide water security throughout the entire region. We must immediately accelerate the pace and scale of solutions to reduce the Basin’s significant water supply risks.
Additionally, the results of the 24-month study do not incorporate actions in response to the Commissioner’s prior call for the Colorado River Basin states to identify a plan to conserve an additional 2 to 4 million acre-feet annually of water to protect critical reservoir levels. The Upper Basin, which includes Colorado, has developed and come to agreement on a “5-Point Plan,” which includes coordinating reservoir operations, advancing demand management investigations, and allowing for system conservation projects. But more is needed. Contributions from every water use sector across the Basin are urgently needed to increase the pace of water conservation at the scale required to protect the Basin.
The drumbeat of alarming forecasts are disheartening for those who rely on the Colorado River — over 40 million of us. But, there is some reason for hope. The recently-passed Inflation Reduction Act — which invests $4 billion into drought preparedness with a focus on Colorado River Basin — adds to the flow of much-needed federal funding kickstarted by bipartisan bills passed last year. And, Coloradans now have a crucial opportunity to engage in the draft update to Colorado’s Water Plan, ensuring that the revised proposal reflects this critical moment by establishing mechanisms for accountability and progress towards meaningful conservation goals; securing sustainable, long-term funding to address the supply and demand gap; taking into account the importance of healthy rivers; and ensuring equity and inclusion across all water users in the state.
We clearly have the resources and opportunities to take actions that can have an impact. Now we all need to do our part to build a sustainable future for Colorado, while partnering with the entire Colorado River community to find solutions to stabilize the system.”
About the Water for Colorado Coalition
The Water for Colorado Coalition is a group of nine organizations dedicated to ensuring our rivers support everyone who depends on them, working toward resilience to climate change, planning for sustained and more severe droughts, and enabling every individual in Colorado to have a voice and the opportunity to take action to advocate for sustainable conservation-based solutions for our state’s water future. The community of organizations that make up the Water for Colorado Coalition represent diverse perspectives and share a commitment to protecting Colorado’s water future to secure a reliable water supply for the state and for future generations.