Thursday, December 13, 2012

Demand for water from Colorado River will outpace its supply by 2060, federal report says

Drought, climate change and population growth will greatly decrease water supply in the Colorado River basin by 2060, according to a federal study. It predicts that river supplies will fall short of demand by about 3.2 million acre-feet, more than five times the amount of water consumed annually by Los Angeles. The Bureau of Reclamation study, authorized by Congress, acknowledges the difficulties in trying to project supply and demand over 50 years. To generate the report, the bureau worked with agricultural, environmental and tribal groups, as well as the river basin states: Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming. (Associated Press photo by Matt York)

"Water managers have known for years that long-term average flows of the Colorado are not as great as they were early in the last century when the river's supplies were divvied up among the states," Bettina Boxall of the Los Angeles Times reports. A warming climate is expected to increase evaporation, decrease snowpack and accentuate drought, she writes. The report cites previous water-flow studies that predict a reduction of 9 percent, and developed a range of supply and demand scenarios to determine estimates.

The report lists a number of proposed solutions to mitigate water loss. Those measures include desalination of seawater and brackish water for potable water supplies, and recycling and conservation. Some proposals, such as a pipeline from the east and towing icebergs to Southern California, were immediately dismissed as unfeasible by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. (Read more)

No comments: