Filling the Gap
A strategy for meeting Front Range water demands to 2050 while protecting Front Range streamflows and avoiding further West Slope diversions. Published in February 2011 this report is a collaborative effort of Western Resource Advocates, Trout Unlimited and the Colorado Environmental Coalition.
RESTORATION AND MITIGATION
When water is permanently removed from our rivers in vast quantities, it can forever alter a river’s ability to naturally maintain proper oxygen levels and water temperature, leading to big problems for the many organisms and fish that live there and depend on healthy rivers for survival. To help maintain healthy rivers, restoration or other activities (sometimes refered to as ‘mitigation’) are necessary to restore the natural function of a river and keep fish alive. Mitigation and restoration can include things like planting trees or native plants along a streambank, making a river deeper to keep water cooler longer or releasing more water out of a dam during hot summer months. Scientists and river experts can determine what type of mitigation is appropriate for each unique river system.
INCREASED EFFECIENCY AND WATER CONSERVATION
Because over half of all summer water use in the Denver-metro area goes toward outdoor lawns and landscaping, the potential for household water savings by addressing outdoor inefficiencies is huge. Water-savings practices—like setting your sprinkler timer according to the season, replacing a portion of your lawn with drought-tolerant native plants and grasses and installing drip irrigation— are cheap and easy ways for you to significantly reduce your outdoor water use at home. For more household water saving tips and ideas, click here.
As Coloradans, we place great value in sustaining family farms and ranches that are central to many communities and the Colorado way of life. It’s important that we meet our water needs – for growing food or providing drinking water – in a way that preserves our agricultural heritage, open spaces and rivers on both sides of the Divide. One way to ensure healthy agricultural economies and healthy rivers is through voluntary partnerships between agriculture and urban water users. Often called “sharing arrangements,” these voluntary partnerships allow urban water providers to temporarily lease water from agricultural water rights holders and avoid short-sighted “buy and dry” approaches that permanently take agriculture out of production.
SMART WATER PROJECTS
New dams and diversions that permanently remove water from rivers and ship it across the Continental Divide to Front Range cities and suburbs should be avoided when possible. Existing proposals for new supply, such as dam upgrades and small-scale storage, could be acceptable if and only if they are done right and minimize, to the fullest extent possible, damage to Colorado’s rivers, fish, wildlife and mountain communities.