Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Water Politics in the News

Looks like the U.S./Mexico border will have yet another use that will exclusively benefit this side of the line.
Arizona will invest nearly $30 million in a new reservoir at the end of the Colorado River, money that will buy the state more water and added insurance against future shortages.

The reservoir will be built about 20 miles west of Yuma, on the California side of the river, and will capture water that flows unused into Mexico. The structure was included in the seven-state drought plan adopted last month.

Nevada originally agreed to pay the full $172 million cost of the reservoir in return for access to more water but approached Arizona and California late last year about buying shares of the project.

Conservation gets a mention from Governor Napolitano yesterday in the State of the State Address
Population growth, combined with climate change and its resulting drought, will make water an ever-present factor in Arizona's future. Through our laws, ordinances and building codes, we must continue to emphasize conservation, as well as preservation of riparian habitat, as we develop new water infrastructure for our state.

text of full speech
No word from the Governor on how the happy talk extends to the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Range; but at least responsible use of water is being reinforced. The signs are ominous for the future of the Rio Colorado

As of 2007, the Upper Basin is well ahead of its 10-year requirement, according to the Colorado Water Conservation Board. So, barring a historic dry-up of the river, a call probably won’t happen for at least 10 years.

That gives new projects more than a decade to start using water.

The long lag is like a broken speedometer that tells you the speed of your car five minutes ago. By the time you realize you’re going too fast, you might have blown through a speed trap.

“If we overdevelop the river, which seems to be the human condition — it’s happened on the Arkansas and other rivers — then we will have to pay the piper later,” Balcomb said.

Population growth is projected to grow exponentially

Southwest Colorado is home to about 90,000 people, with more arriving every week. And the regional population will grow almost 90 percent by 2035, according to the Office of the State Demographer.

A 2005 study called the Statewide Water Supply Initiative predicted that Southwest Colorado could meet most of its future demands, but unless it builds new water projects, some shortfalls are expected in every county except Dolores and San Juan.

La Plata County's municipal demand is expected to grow nearly 70 percent by 2030, with an 800 acre-foot shortfall.

In the face of this growth, the region is trying to protect its history of farming and ranching.


No comments: