Water Districts Discuss Plan in Ongoing Drought

WATER CONSERVATIONThe Colorado River and Southwestern Water Conservation Districts met in a special joint meeting September 18th in Montrose to address the on-going drought conditions in the Colorado River basin and its effects on storage and operations of Lakes Powell and Mead. The two boards unanimously adopted a recommended priority for a contingency plan in response to extraordinarily low reservoir levels. They decided that changes in federal reservoir operations and additional investment in river augmentation programs must be the first priority. If it becomes necessary to implement the contingency plan due to on-going drought conditions, stored water in Flaming Gorge, Navajo and Blue Mesa Reservoirs should be released and subsequently stored in Lake Powell to increase Powell’s lake levels. Additional weather modification and removal of non-native, riparian trees should be undertaken to enhance both river flows and water levels in Lake Powell. Only if those efforts prove insufficient should “demand management” proposals be pursued, as these efforts will disrupt traditional water uses. Demand management proposals include a reduction in consumption by municipal and irrigation users and voluntary deficit irrigation and temporary fallowing by agricultural users. The two boards stressed the importance that any demand management effort include conservation by both municipal and agricultural water users, and that any agricultural water disruptions be shared by Colorado River water users on both the east and west slopes.

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