Concerns over Colorado River management surface once more, as scholars urge that the National Academy of Sciences reviews the 2012 Colorado River Basin’s Supply and Demand Study.
Seven Western states are pooling their efforts and resources to come up with the best management plan for the limited resources of the Colorado River. Several studies are conducted annually to help put things in perspective and provide sensible recommendations on decision making and decision taking with regards to effective management.
However, a group of scholars is now questioning the 2012 Colorado River Basin’s Supply and Demands Study by the National Academy of Sciences. In the group’s understanding, there are key areas which have not received sufficient attention. This may lead to less efficient management and conflicts.
One letter sent on Tuesday to the Interior Secretary Sally Jewell quotes a couple of areas that do not receive sufficient attention. Among them, flood management, ecology, climate change, water quality, depletion of groundwater and accurate forecasts of water demand require immediate attention.
According to John Weisheit, the conservation director with Living Rivers and Colorado Riverkeeper:
“If ever there was a time to undertake the first basinwide independent review of this vital natural resource, that time is now. Decisions should be based on the best available information and the National Academy is well positioned to ensure that”.
The 2012 study was initiated in 2010. While it does include an analysis of demand and supply and makes accurate references to the imbalances incurred, it fails to take into consideration factors of growing importance to assuring a balanced water resource management on the already strained Colorado River.
Estimates indicate that there are currently 40 million people whose water supply comes from the Colorado River. By 2060, the number is estimated to grow to 76.5 million people. The supply, however, is bound to fall. According to the study, the conservative estimate shortfall on the Colorado river is 3.2 million acre-feet. The less conservative number is estimated at 6.8 million acre-feet per year.
Against this background, over 150 studies have tried to address the issue. And as concerns over Colorado River management surface once more, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is currently implementing strategies for effective management that are taking into consideration ecologic aspects, supply requirements both in the industrial and the municipal sector, as well as agricultural use.
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