The plan says Colorado will continue the slow but steady transformation of moving water from agriculture — by far the largest water user — to cities, with nearly 14,000 acres of irrigated land expected to be urbanized, one-third of that in the Grand Valley.
The actions taken in the 2022 Drought Response Operations Plan will add about 1 million acre-feet, or 16 feet of elevation, to Lake Powell. But these actions are not enough.
The problem from which all others stem, including the changing fish communities, and the reason Powell is so low in the first place is the climate-change-driven supply-demand imbalance, Schmidt said.
For several locations — the Roaring Fork at Glenwood, the Crystal, the San Miguel and the Colorado at Cameo — the peak came so early that it was outside the window of what’s considered normal.
But to complete the final 3,600 feet, the ditch company is turning to public sources of money because they say the project will have the public benefit of keeping between 0.5 and 1 additional cubic feet per second of water in Hunter Creek.
The mining company said the Army Corps required them to choose compensatory mitigation that was “in-kind” to the impacts on Yule Creek and as close as possible to the affected area.
That divisiveness reveals the tension between traditional water users like agricultural producers, who take water out of the rivers, and recreational and environmental water advocates, whose goal is to keep water in the river.
Still, the threat from out-of-state, urban interests loomed large at Thursday’s hearing.
But even though things on the whole are better than the previous two years, the lingering effects of drought means reservoirs are depleted and may take several seasons to rebound.
Cities have long dictated water policy, even as river recreation represents a growing segment of the state’s economy.