Study Projects Long-Term Water Shortage

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1min 10sec

A new federal study projects a major shortage of water for Colorado and six other states that rely on the Colorado River by 2060. The study says that gap between supply and demand will reach millions of acre feet if nothing is done.

This is a transcript of the report from CPR's Pat Mack:

Reporter Pat Mack: The study is the most comprehensive ever of the water shortage that could face people living in the basin of the Colorado River. Denver Water CEO Jim Lochhead says there’s time to address the gap.

Jim Lochhead: I think it’s a call to action, but I don’t think it’s a crisis that’s looming this year or next year.

Reporter: The environmental group Western Resource Advocates says some of the study's population growth estimates are inflated. The organization fears they could be used to argue for more pipelines, something it doesn’t think is necessary. Instead, spokesman Drew Beckwith says the gap can be closed with conservation, reuse of water and better water management. But overall, Beckwith praised the Bureau of Reclamation, the agency that manages dams on the river, for completing the study. He says it not only projects the potential water shortage but also notes that climate change is a factor.

Drew Beckwith: Climate change is real. It has significant impacts on the river. It’s going to decrease flows 8-12 percent on the river already. So that’s a great thing that we’re acknowledging that it’s something that needs to be dealt with.

Reporter: Federal officials and water managers plan to meet early next year to discuss options to close the projected gap.

[Photo: U.S. Department of Interior]