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Icebergs one solution to Colorado River water woes?


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What do icebergs and mountains have in common?

Water, of course. And in the eyes of one imaginative contributor, both would be a future source of water here, in the Colorado River Basin.

Such is the scope of solutions offered in response to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s forthcoming Colorado River Supply and Demand study, to be released this summer. The Bureau assumes that demand will exceed supply in the basin at some point and invited public proposals to address the imbalance as part of the research effort. The list was made public this week prior to the release of the formal data early this summer.

Wrapping a North Atlantic iceberg in cellophane and towing it to a nearby coast for melting and transit into the Basin is one proposal.

Of course, the perilous future of the Colorado River has serious implications for the economy of the West.  Very few of the proposals should be dismissed out of hand – including the transport of water from remote locales. The list is fascinating. Among the creative options to increase supply:

  • Surface water importation – Missouri River
  • Water imports using ocean routes – water bags
  • Water imports using ocean routes – icebergs
  • Widespread desalinization – San Francisco, Salton Sea, Puerto Penase, Mexicali Mexico, Rio Grande, Houston area
  • Coal bed methane-produced water
  • And reuse, rainwater capture, recycling etc.

Desalinization is a common theme.

Among the options offered to reduce demand:

  • Conversations to limit growth in Subject areas
  • Mandate water savings technologies for large water users
  • Evaporation reduction by limiting man-made water bodies including pools, lakes, and water parks
  • Conservation instead of Lake Powell pipeline
  • Reduce cattle production and beef demand

And to “Modify Operations”:

  • The one-dam solution – Lake Powell removal
  • Fill (Lake) Mead first
  • Lower Basin water banking
  • Removal of invasive plant species

And so on.

As far-fetched or impractical as some sound, the water landscape in the West in 2050 may be unrecognizable in contrast to today. So may the Colorado River.

ColoradoBiz will co-host a fall conference on the uncertain future of the River, to in part review and interpret the substantive findings of the USBR study.

 Business should take note: today, we’re largely disengaged from the discussion about the region’s water future. “Conversations to limit growth in subject areas” is a potential dialogue the business community should drive, not observe.

 

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Bart Taylor

Bart Taylor is the publisher of ColoradoBiz magazine. E-mail him at btaylor@cobizmag.com.

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