EDF Calls for Swift Action on Common Sense Solutions for Colorado River

May 28, 2013
Chandler Clay, 202-572-3312, cclay@edf.org
(WASHINGTON – May 28, 2013) Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) will join representatives from the Department of Interior, Bureau of Reclamation, seven Colorado River Basin States and Ten Tribes Partnership on Tuesday to discuss “Next Steps” for the Colorado River, as described in the Colorado River Basin Supply and Demand Study.

“The Colorado River Basin Study is a call to action,” said Jennifer Pitt, director of EDF’s Colorado River Project and speaker at Tuesday’s event. “With water demand already exceeding supply and populations of urban and rural communities expected to grow throughout the Basin, the time for action is now. Communities that depend on the Colorado River – for water supply or as the foundation of a $26 Billion recreation economy – cannot afford to wait.”
For the next phase of the Colorado River Basin Supply and Demand Study, EDF would like to see the recommendations presented in the first phase of the study – more efficient use of existing urban water supplies, reuse of waste water, better watershed management, improved agricultural techniques, and modern solutions such as water banks – translated into new programs. Reclamation’s announcement of funding for projects that will conserve more than 13,000 acre-feet of Colorado River water annually is a good start, and these workgroups should be focused on creating quantifiable water savings.
“These common sense solutions are within reach,” Pitt said. “The Basin Study identified more than 4 million acre-feet of solutions that are faster, safer, and less expensive to implement than some of the more controversial and costly proposals such as pipelines and similarly inefficient alternatives that would rely on other regions for water.
“A number of these common sense solutions have already been successful within the 7-state region and across the globe. That said, we need to ramp up the implementation of such conservation tools and programs immediately. There is no time to waste.”
Implementing an Upper Basin Water Bank should be a top priority, Pitt added.
An Upper Basin Water Bank would encourage water conservation by allowing users who save water to sell it to a bank that will store it to increase water supply reliability for all water users in the Upper Basin, putting money in the pockets of those who conserve and making more water available for those who need it. Through careful operations, this banking system can keep water in the river, promoting healthy flows, while creating a market-based approach to conservation that strengthens local economies.
“Negotiating a water bank will be a challenge, but the potential rewards are immense,” Pitt said. “I am hopeful that the Upper Basin Water Bank discussions can include representation from conservation interests to explore options for bank operations that give us healthy rivers.”


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