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Old 05-31-2007, 02:53 PM
8,317 posts, read 25,840,928 times
Reputation: 9133


[ Moderator Note: Water is a vibrant and contentious issue in the west, subject to a full body of case and contract law and is a topic frequently misunderstood by average citizens. Please make this thread your primary source for seeking background and answers on water issues, or to ask a question related to water. Putting the vast majority of our water matters in one thread makes finding that info extremely easy for all our readers. Thank you, and thank Jazzlover for sharing his wealth of info on this topic.
s/Mike from back east, Moderator ]

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Each year, an engaging seminar is held in Gunnison, Colorado: The Colorado Water Workshop. It is a forum where water issues facing the West, particularly the Colorado River Basin, are debated and discussed. For a number of years, many of the discussions there centered on how much "excess" water there might be in the Colorado River Basin and how it might be divided to accomodate the region's spiralling population growth. From the reports I have read from this year's workshop, those conversations have ceased.

In fact, what seemed to be the hot topic this year was the debate on just HOW short the water resources of the Colorado River Basin are, and how those shortages will be "shared" among the states reliant on that water. Worse yet, there seems to be a growing concensus of experts who believe that Colorado River Basin streamflows, water supplies from which are stretched to their very limits today, are going to continue to diminish--by estimates of up to 30% by 2030.

Meanwhile, the explosive growth of population (in part fueled by readers of this forum, no doubt) are projected to continue throughout the region, based upon past trends. It should take no genius to see that population in Colorado and the southwest is headed for a head-on collision with diminishing water supplies. Like most hi-speed head-on colllisions, this one will result in catastrophic economic, social, and environmental destruction--along with a lot of collateral damage. Yet, no one wants to utter the unthinkable: that the West has already reached or exceeded its population "carrying capacity" and that there simply aren't the resources for any more significant population growth. Well, it has. And the result of ignoring this increasingly unrefutable truth will lead to the very unpleasant future consequence--not of debating how many more people and how much growth the West can absorb, but who and how many people will be staying in the region and how many will have to leave.

As a water "expert" friend of mine once opined, "Hey, IT'S A DESERT, STUPID!" Considering that the WETTEST locations in Colorado get less precipitation than most of the DRIEST locations in the Midwest and East, it's not a minor point. Mother Nature is setting up to remind modern Coloradans and southwesterners of the folly of ignoring that truth, just a she did 700+ years ago with the Anasazi inhabiting Mesa Verde. We are building modern "cliff dwellings" in Colorado today that will likely be abandoned just like those of the Anasazi when their water supplies depleted.

Last edited by Mike from back east; 11-13-2007 at 03:44 PM.. Reason: To post a Mod note at start of thread.
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Old 05-31-2007, 03:20 PM
Location: Colorado Springs
32 posts, read 195,925 times
Reputation: 39
Where should we all run?
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Old 05-31-2007, 03:37 PM
Location: Crystal Lake IL
29 posts, read 148,389 times
Reputation: 39
Ok so i read your Post about the water issues in Colorado....
Tell me why are you so worried about this? The reason I ask is because in places like New York City,With over 8.2 million residents within an area of 322 square miles New York City has the highest population density of any major North American city in the US, Yet things work just fine.. Sounds like your having an issue with Pipes not water! Think about it. We put people in space with supplies for months if not years.. Resources are Very limited in space.
Yes there may be issues with an explosion in growth but honeslty I dont think Colorado measures up to the problems being faced by the other states. We all have our issues. What about Miami ... all it takes is a Cat4 Hurricane and its all over for everyone. ever thought about that one? What if a quake hit hard enough in California and sent eveyone off into the pacific ocean? Or better yet the real problem we all face... climbing gas prices.... how about that for a Problem. Bottom line i agree you may have conservation issues but they are very little compared to the rest of the country. Hey here is something for you to wrap your brain around go onto wikipedia.org and lookup The Trans-Alaska Pipeline System .... This Pipeline runs north to south , almost 800 miles if we can make that work under those conditions ...Please colorado is nothing but a walk in the park. I think that what needs to happen here is the right people need to be brought in Thinkers rather than Local Conservationist.
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Old 05-31-2007, 04:18 PM
8,317 posts, read 25,840,928 times
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The amount of money (much of it your federal tax dollars) lavished on water projects in the Colorado River Basin over the last century is mind-boggling. Some of the brightest engineers I know have worked on these projects and have tackled (for decades) the problem of trying to sustain growth in an arid environment. The simple fact is: all of those brilliant people spending all of that money are running out of practical solutions to continue to try to accomodate millions of additional people in an arid environment. We have reached the limit.

Virtually any location in the country may be subject to a one-time disastrous event that may cause catastrophic damage over a limited area. The Western water crisis is much different. It is a escalating long-term crisis that will eventually affect a sizable physical area of the United States. My point is that the southwestern United States is about to face, within a very few years, some extremely unpleasant circumstances with equally unpleasant options available to deal with them. That people in Colorado might actually have to consider moving elsewhere seems unthinkable to today's Coloradans. That's not surprising, considering that the state has been growing for over one-half century. What is overlooked is the fact the much of the state was in population DECLINE for much of the half-century preceding that.

By the way, I do not consider myself a rabid environmentalist--far from it. But I do consider myself and ardent conservationist and I am proud of it. Americans very much need a greater "waste not, want not" attitude if we expect our following generations to have much of a life at all.
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Old 05-31-2007, 06:09 PM
Location: Carefree Arizona
127 posts, read 398,501 times
Reputation: 85
I agree somewhat with jazzlover that we need to instill in people more of the "waste not" attitude. The problem is we will only take this attitude to heart when the faucet if finally turned off. In the Phoenix Metropolitan area, I have seen the population jump from 1.8 million to almost 4 million in the short 14 years that I have been here. The economy is fueled by the Real Estate market with the more growth the better for Arizona attitude. They still build like crazy with people putting grass in a sonoran desert environment - with no regard for all the water it requires.
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Old 06-01-2007, 06:47 AM
Location: Old Forge, NY
585 posts, read 1,995,586 times
Reputation: 197
jazzlover has some valid concerns. What the front range takes not only affects Coloradoans but millions downstream.

Sure, build a pipe a few hundred miles long. However, I think it would be cheaper if people would stop growing kentucky bluegrass lawns and Colorado would do a better job preventing water loss.

If you wanna nice green lawn, move east.
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Old 06-01-2007, 09:17 AM
11,256 posts, read 43,368,175 times
Reputation: 14917
It's somewhat shocking to see the ignorance about this region and the condescending attitude about a resource that's functionally not available.

We could build all the pipelines, water storage, and water distribution systems imagineable, and that doesn't begin to address the fundamental problem in the region ... there's little water available to start with.

What part of "drought" don't people understand?
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Old 06-01-2007, 10:07 AM
2,755 posts, read 11,760,764 times
Reputation: 1464
Jazzlover, I agree with your assessment. This is probably the #1 issue that will affect Colorado and all the other western states in the future. I feel that even now we in the state still lack the will to act to lead a drive to mandate the kind of conservation measures necessary.
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Old 06-01-2007, 10:46 AM
13 posts, read 77,547 times
Reputation: 28
Wow, amazing someone would even try to compare Colorado water problems with the east. There are too many people moving to Colorado - there are too many people that have already moved here and jazzlover isn't just speculating or "fussing". Wells are drying up and aquifers are rapidly depleting. Jazzlover do not apologize. You are correct and it is vital for people to quite poking their heads in the sand - I hardly think Wikipedia is the ideal resource for informed exchange of ideas on water issues.
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Old 06-01-2007, 10:55 AM
Location: Phoenix metro
20,005 posts, read 69,389,357 times
Reputation: 10115
Great points and good write-up Jazzlover! Its a big issue, no doubt. I dont foresee the SW or west drying up in my lifetime, but sooner or later I imagine it will.
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