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tions from 6 percent to 45 percent by 2050. Furthermore, the supply/demand im- balance scenarios projected in the Basin Study “are based on outdated population projections and inattention to grow- ing water conservation trends under- way throughout the basin, resulting in inflated demand scenarios and inaccurate options assessment.” Opinion differs among Colorado


River stakeholders on whether NAS’ review is needed. “I do think there’s more to do in terms of getting states and water users to pub- licly acknowledge the full scope of chal- lenges we face on the Colorado River,” Jennifer Pitt, formerly Colorado River program director for the Environmental Defense Fund, wrote in an email to River Report. (Pitt recently went to work for the National Audubon Society.) “Getting the


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Making Financial Sense Whether the ideas presented in the Liquid Assets report will translate into on-the- ground investments remains to be seen, though it’s apparent there is room for greater private investment in the Colorado River Basin. “As time goes on and as pressure


builds around these resources, we are inevitably going to see more and more progression toward transactional ap- proaches, market-driven approaches,” Culp said. “Tere’s a lot of conversation about how markets need to be more utilized in water. But I think the concern that we all have is that simply enabling more transactions to take place is not necessarily going to help solve the issues that we actually have.” Impact investment is attracting


ever-greater attention on Wall Street, Culp said, noting Goldman Sachs’ July purchase of the impact investment firm Imprint Capital. In a statement, Hugh


‘problem definition’ right is a necessary precursor to getting the right solutions [and] an NAS study might be the right call. Outside pressure can be helpful.” Ted Kowalski, chief of the Colorado


Water Conservation Board’s Interstate and Federal section, told River Report the NAS review is unnecessary. “I think the states and the federal agencies are continuing to work together in the context of the Basin Study, as well in the context of drought contingency planning, to address our future water supply imbalances and I don’t know that an NAS review will provide much additional value,” he said. “It’s easy to not participate in a study and then throw rocks at it.”


Te Colorado River Basin States


have a unique and remarkable history of working together to solve problems – the Colorado River Basin Study, the


Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program, the San Juan River Endangered Fish Recovery Program, the Lower Basin Multi Species Conservation Plan, the 2007 Colorado River Interim Guidelines for Lower Basin Shortages and Coordinated Operations for Lake Powell and Lake Mead and the recent treaty “Minutes” with Mexico “are all examples of this collaboration, and it is the way that water management should occur,” on the Colorado River, Kowalski said.


“I think that paradigm of the states and the federal agencies working together is working, and that paradigm should be allowed to work into the future,” he said. “I don’t know that we need another federal agency to come in and tell us how to manage the river into the future.” •


– Gary Pitzer


Lawson, global head of environmental, social, and effective governance invest- ing for Goldman, said that “our invest- ing clients are interested in deploying their assets in a way that amplifies their broader values while generating invest- ment returns in a rigorous and risk aware manner [and] Imprint’s expertise will allow our clients to access a wider array of thoughtfully designed … impact investments in all major public and private markets.” On the public side, Entsminger


predicted a quiet ride for SNWA now that it’s past its financial turmoil. On the retail side, he said it is time to revisit the financial outlook for the Las Vegas Valley Water District, which serves more than 1 million people. “We haven’t had a rate increase since 2009 and we are looking at probably the 2017 to 2018 timeframe that we are going to need to make an adjustment more or less to track the consumer price index,” he said. “Te stuff water utilities use – steel, concrete, electricity – by and


large is outpacing CPI [Consumer Price Index] by a third to half a percent a year. So we are going to need to find a way to track the inflation index relative to the products utilities use and if we can do that on the retail side we’ll be in good shape.” Pellegrino told the audience that


SNWA’s advisory committee believes in more investment in system conservation for the Colorado River “And what their recommenda- tions centered around was not a dollar amount, but actually whether the other communities that shared in the Colorado River participated as well,” she said. “Tey said it makes sense for us to protect Lake Mead. It’s in our backyard. We get a lot of economic benefit from Lake Mead. But we’re not the only user of Lake Mead and we are the smallest user of Lake Mead. So, we should take this action proactively, but really contingent upon the whole Basin being able to get together and do something proactively.” •


Winter 2015-2016 • River Report • Colorado River Project • 11


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