Major Colorado River Basin Study Released
In December 2012, the Department of Interior released the Colorado River Basin Water Supply and Demand Study. This three-year long study found multiple indications that the basin will become more vulnerable in terms of water reliability, hydroelectric power generation, recreation, and river flows over the 50-year planning horizon. Study objectives included assessing Colorado River supply and demand imbalances, considering impacts of climate change, and identifying ways to resolve imbalances. The study serves as a call to action for an integrated planning process. Forty million people depend on the Colorado River for water and power. Recognizing the importance of the river to the people of the basin, the Bureau of Reclamation engaged with hundreds of stakeholders from agricultural, environmental and energy sectors, tribal groups and water agencies. Their input throughout the study process was incorporated into published interim reports and technical updates, as well as this final report.
According to the report, by 2060, without action, there will be significant imbalances between demand and supply with an average gap of 3.2 million acre-feet per year. Water conservation and reuse opportunities are insufficient alone to solve the problem, but the combination of augmentation, conservation, and reuse could significantly reduce risk of future imbalances. The report can be viewed at http://www.usbr.gov/lc/region/programs/crbstudy.html.