Annual water conference addresses harsh impacts to the Colorado River and proposed solutions

Local News

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo.

There’s 30% less water in the Colorado River than in the 1920’s and that trend is expected to continue according to the Colorado River District. General Manager for the CRD, Andy Mueller says, “We face a moment in time here that presents unprecedented challenges on the Colorado River.”

Record breaking temperatures, extreme drought conditions, and lowered streamflow were just some of the impacts discussed at the annual water seminar called, Wake-up Call on the Colorado River. “We’ve all got to work together to reduce our consumptive use to preserve the quality of life here in Western Colorado,” said Mueller.

72% of voters passed the river district tax hike generating $4.2 million dollars to fund projects to protect Western Slope water, but the best solution may simply be conservation. Mueller says, “Not necessarily how much you take from the river, but how much you take and never return.”

The Colorado River District covers 15 western Colorado counties, 29,000 square miles, and 28% of Colorado’s landmass, but at the water seminar one Western Slope lawmaker says many issues were presented with few solutions. State Representative for District 54 Matt Soper (R) says, “It seems I’ve heard a lot of experts talk about how we’re receiving less snow, less rain. We still have our obligations on the 1922 compact, and so, that’s been kind of the frustrating side. It’s more like presenting the reality, and I suppose it’s up to policy makers to talk about what do we actually do from here.”

Assistant Secretary of Water and Science for the Department of Interior, Tanya Trujillo is a morning keynote speaker at the seminar discussing federal perspectives on big river questions. Trujillo says, “It can be irrigation efficiency, it can be more re-use and recycling efforts, it could be developing new technologies.”

This unique water seminar comes at the end of a peculiar water year, but in order to adapt to a new future it’s going to take teamwork. State Representative Soper says, “I think it’s very important that we look at everything and that we try and protect as much of water here on the Western Slope as possible. Because if there’s one thing we’re caught between, it’s greedy front range interests and greedy downstream interests who would all like to use more than their fair share.”

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