The Colorado River with Grand Mesa in the background from Riverbend Park, Palisade, Colo.

(Photo: iStockphoto)
A new report on the growing demand for water from the Colorado River calls for more water conservation and reuse in communities in the basin.

The groups, Western Resource Advocates and American Rivers wrote the report. They say farmers should also make their irrigation systems more efficient and states should encourage more renewable energy use that doesn’t need water to produce power.

The goal is not to divert water from one area to another, said American Rivers' Matt Rice.

"We deliberately don’t address and don’t believe that the right approach is with new pipelines and new large-scale water projects, because they’re significantly more expensive," Rice says.

The report says millions of people’s drinking water is at risk over the next few decades if demand continues to outpace the Colorado River’s water supply.  

It’ll be important over the next few years for communities to continue to encourage water conservation, said Bart Miller of Boulder-based Western Resource Advocates.

"We can look to having landscapes that use more native vegetation, that are smaller in size," Miller says. "We can greatly decrease the amount of water that’s used outside, which is about half of the water use for most metropolitan areas."

Miller said it’ll be important to replicate successful conservation and water-reuse programs in cities throughout the southwest.