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Drought Contingency Plan, stake holders are looking for a way forward that en- sures sustainability. What remains to be seen is how that takes place. “I wouldn’t go so far to say that it’s getting into the details,” Derwingson said, describing the Colorado Water Plan. “It does call out the need for an insurance plan or a method to deal with this risk. A lot of the water plan is a good framework; it’s all going to come down to how it’s implemented.” Urban areas that rely on water from

the Basin “are as focused on providing security for the water supply that they have [because] they need to develop more water,” he said, adding “there is confidence they can, within limits, grow into the supply that they have by reduc- ing per capita demand.” A top-down approach is not neces-

sary in the Upper Basin because of the disparity, according to Derwingson, who noted there are 15 entities that take water from Lake Mead and 1,500 ditch companies in western Colorado. Meanwhile, details of the Lower

Basin’s Drought Contingency Plan are forthcoming. “Tere is a synergistic effect between

the Upper Basin and the Lower Basin plans,” Ostler said. “Our plan will pro- vide some modeled, measurable benefit to Mead. Likewise, if the Lower Basin implements their plan it will provide some modeled, measurable benefit to Lake Powell.”

Te management efforts are shaded

by a future hydrologic system that experts believe will alter the way water reaches users in the Basin. Te Colorado River Research Group

(chaired by Kenney) in October released a report, “Climate Change and the Colorado River: What We Already Know,” which notes that warmer tem- peratures are occurring and that even with a dose of uncertainty factored into future precipitation levels, the added heat in the system makes it almost

In 2005, Lake Powell reached its lowest level since the completion of Glen Canyon Dam when it was only at 32.7 percent of capacity.

inevitable that streamflow will continue to decline.

“Colorado River stakeholders should

take heed,” according to the report. “A key lesson from climate physics and one well evident in the models is that climate change is water change. Te two are inextricably linked.” Paying for improvements is a chal- lenge but “one way or another” it will happen, said Eklund, adding that “we need to find out as Coloradans what we want that to look like.” “If we say no new revenue we are left with people continuing to want their service and we don’t have a way to pay for it,” he said. It does seem that funding will have to

come from the bottom up. “I don’t think we are going to see big federal dollars coming into even 50 percent-financed state water projects,” Castle said. Upper Basin officials know the

importance of staying ahead of the water supply curve.

“Looking into the future and how we

are going to meet future water needs, if we don’t start conserving now … and we’ve done a great job I think so far,

there’s more we can do, it’s of utmost importance that we are efficient and use water as wisely as we possibly can,” Millis said. Kuhn said the concept of “risk toler-

ance,” or stretching the available water supply to its limit, is becoming more commonplace. “It’s a new discussion for the Colorado River Basin,” Kuhn said. “Some entities have very little tolerance for risk because they serve people. You can turn off water for lawns in Colorado Springs but you can’t, as a safety matter, remove the water supply for a metropoli- tan area that has 4 million people.” Eklund said the water supply situa- tion does not warrant serious discussion of draining Lake Powell or renegotiating the Colorado River Compact. “Anybody that has bought into this idea that we should just drain our insur- ance policy or renegotiate the entire way we do this river system, let’s get together and chat,” he said. “It’s impor- tant for Coloradans to understand when it comes to water, we punch above our weight.” •

Winter 2016-2017 • River Report • Colorado River Project • 11

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