Major municipal water providers in the #ColoradoRiver basin announce commitment to dramatically reduce water use — @DenverWater #CORiver #aridification

Major water providers throughout the Colorado River Basin today announced their commitment to significantly expand existing efforts to conserve water, reduce demand, and expand the reuse and recycling of water supplies.

The agreement includes water providers in the upper and lower Colorado River basins, stretching from Colorado’s Front Range to Las Vegas and Los Angeles. Suppliers invite other basin utilities to join in the commitment to increase water use efficiency and reduce water demand.

The deal comes amid a two-decade drought on the river that is affecting 40 million people who depend on it for drinking water, agriculture, power generation, landscape irrigation, recreation and Moreover. Water demands in the basin have exceeded available supply, reducing storage levels in Lakes Mead and Powell to extremely low levels.

The water suppliers outline their commitments in a memorandum of understanding that was delivered today to the Commissioner of the Office of Reclamation, Camille Touton. Some vendors have committed to continue the intent of the MOU pending final approval by their various boards of directors.

“We are developing prudent municipal water conservation actions that every community that depends on the Colorado River should use,” the water providers said in the letter to Touton. Going forward, “We will outline the actions our organizations will take now and codify our commitment to continue our efforts as we strive to ensure our river and the communities it serves continue to thrive. We sincerely hope that our commitment to action will inspire others who share the river to do the same.

Specifically, the agreement will focus on several key areas as ways to reduce water use, including:

  • Develop programs to replace non-functional or passive cool-weather turf (grass that primarily serves a decorative role and is otherwise unused) with drought- and climate-resistant landscaping, while preserving vital cityscapes and treetops trees, if any.
  • Increase water reuse and recycling programs where possible.
  • Continue and expand conservation and efficiency programs to accelerate water savings.
  • “Achieving the protective storage volumes necessary to preserve water and hydropower operations in the Colorado River Basin cannot be met by any single country, basin, state, or water use sector,” continues the letter to BOR. “While municipal water use is a small fraction of the Colorado River’s total water use, progress starts with one and then many until we all move forward in the same direction.”

    While not all of the conservation strategies being considered will make sense for every community, utilities say the agreement demonstrates the commitment of municipal water providers to not only coordinate and collaborate on conservation and management of water demands, but also to help protect the Colorado River. system.

    Links to letter to boardthe PE and a letter of support from Southeast Colorado Water Conservation District.

    Quotes from the signatories of the BOR letter:

    “The water supply issues we face on the Colorado River are accelerating at an alarming rate. Everyone who depends on the Colorado River must take bold and immediate action to reduce their use of this vital water source,” said Adel Hagekhalil, general manager of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. “This agreement represents our commitment to work with our municipal partners on the river to deliver innovative and collaborative approaches to better manage our Colorado River supplies and promote a more sustainable future for our communities.”

    “With climate change and aridification affecting the entire basin, improving the health of the Colorado River system requires a rapid and collective effort by all water users – across all sectors – to reduce the water use and implement concrete strategies, policies and programs to protect this vital resource and balance water supply with demand,” said John Entsminger, CEO of the Southern Nevada Water Authority. .

    “Climate change and the overuse of the Colorado River have thrown us into the crisis we’ve seen coming for a long time. The bottom line now: We all need to work on solutions, regardless of our individual impacts on river flow,” said Jim Lochhead, CEO of Denver Water. “While we have long been a leader in conservation, Denver Water has always said it is ready to do even more, and the commitments contained in this agreement reflect our willingness to take other important steps to conserve more water in the Colorado River Basin.”

    “Water issues in the arid west are accelerating,” said Aurora Water general manager Marshall Brown. “Aurora is embracing these conservation pathways through Colorado’s largest potable reuse system, an aggressive turf replacement rebate program, and a new ordinance that prohibits non-functioning turf in new developments. We are doing what needs to be done to ensure a reliable water supply for our community in unpredictable times and we challenge other municipalities to do the same.

    “Colorado Springs Utilities is committed to implementing conservation programs that ensure a clean, reliable water supply for years to come. Building on our customers’ successful 41% reduction in per capita use since 2001, we continue to pursue and implement water efficiency and reuse initiatives that support our vibrant community and make wise use of this valuable resource,” said Colorado Springs Utilities CEO Aram Benyamin.

    “The Southeast Colorado Water Conservation District supports the efforts of the Upper Colorado River Commission (UCRC), the State of Colorado, and municipal and agricultural water providers in the basin, to collaborate in the balance of the system,” said Jim Broderick, director. district manager.

    Melissa C. Keyes