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Filling The Gap: Joint Executive Summary (2012)

Filling the Gap Joint Executive Summary

Filling The Gap: Front Range (2011)

Filling the Gap Front Range report

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Filling The Gap: Arkansas Basin

Filling the Gap Arkansas Basin report

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Filling the Gap Report (II)

Meeting Future Water Needs in the Arkansas Basin

Filling the Gap: Meeting Future Urban Water Needs in the Arkansas Basin is the second report in a series from Western Resource Advocates, Trout Unlimited, and the Colorado Environmental Coalition. In this report, we outline a realistic and balanced water supply portfolio to meet the urban water needs in the Arkansas Basin while protecting Colorado's waterways, economy, and quality of life. Employing widely accepted data, we explore four water supply strategies: acceptable planned projects, water conservation, reuse, and voluntary water sharing with the agriculture sector. Importantly, our portfolio more than meets future demands of the urban counties of the Arkansas Basin without the need for large, costly, and environmentally damaging transbasin diversions that have been a hallmark of traditional water supply planning.

Our balanced portfolio of water supply strategies more than fills the projected needs of Arkansas Basin communities:

Graph: Our portfolio of water supply strategies

To further explore our proposed water management portfolio, download the full report, executive summary or review these excerpts:

  1. Water and the Environment (.pdf)
  2. Acceptable Planned Projects Strategy (.pdf)
  3. Conservation Strategy (.pdf)
  4. Reuse Strategy (.pdf)
  5. Ag/Urban Cooperation Strategy (.pdf)
The report tackles one of the thorniest issues I wrestled with as Governor: how to protect the Arkansas River Basin. Different stakeholders have locked horns over this problem, but answers have been elusive. This report presents real solutions going forward, and everyone who cares about the Arkansas River Basin should pay attention.
—Bill Ritter, Jr.,
Former Governor of Colorado (2007-11)

Our Recommendations

Water is critical to every component of life in Colorado. The high quality of life we enjoy in this state is at risk, however, unless decision-makers in Colorado shift to more innovative, balanced, and cost-effective approaches for supplying water to our growing population while sustaining our rivers and streams. This report lays out a portfolio of water supply strategies for meeting the future water needs of the communities of the urban counties in the Arkansas River Basin without sacrificing the rivers of our majestic headwaters state. We must look beyond old ways of thinking and realize we have many solutions available for meeting future water needs. Today's decisions are critical.

Based on rigorous data analysis, this report offers several key recommendations that water planners and policy makers should consider carefully in forging Colorado's water future:

  • Close the projected Urban Counties' "gap" with balanced strategies that are more cost-effective and environmentally friendly than traditional transbasin projects.

  • Protect Colorado's rivers, streams, and lakes as an integral part of any future water development strategy. Non-consumptive uses of water - for fishing, whitewater recreation, and other uses - are worth billions of dollars annually to our state economy and are critical to the quality of life in this state.

  • Pursue only those Identified Projects and Processes that can be constructed and operated according to the "smart" principles delineated in this report.

  • Implement more aggressive water conservation strategies. Conservation is often the cheapest, fastest, and smartest way to gain "new" water supplies, and Urban County utilities have significant opportunities to boost their existing water conservation efforts.

  • Maximize the role of water reuse in meeting the future needs of Colorado's residents, and work to improve public perception and acceptance of reuse projects.

  • Cooperate with agriculture on voluntary water sharing agreements that benefit both municipalities and the agricultural community without permanently drying irrigated acres. Alternatives to the "buy and dry" transfers present the best opportunities for our future.

  • While the water providers in the urban counties of the Arkansas Basin in Colorado are already making significant strides in pursuing projects that adhere to our smart principles, by further adopting these recommendations they can more than meet the future water needs of their communities while minimizing impacts to rivers and streams.