Water Management Could Become Game of Hardball

Cataract Canyon, Canyonlands National Park © Kyler Carpenter

As drought continues to loom over much of the Colorado River Basin reservoir capacities are at critically low levels.

With the upcoming year not looking at all well for water users in the basin the questions will turn very quickly to how we will manage this resource through a crisis and what will it portend for how we approach water management in the Colorado River Basin in the future. As pointed out in the past in this blog, demand for water in the Colorado basin greatly exceeds the current supply.

The 2013 water year in the Basin presents a crossroads. Will we continue the status quo pattern of water supply management in the Basin and continue to rely on the pipe dream of inefficient, costly, large dams and diversions to quench our thirst at the expense of the health of our rivers? Will the realities of Western water law come home to roost and force senior rights holders into a game of hardball priority calls to junior rights holders? Will we come together and engage in a shared sacrifice to help communities and businesses though these tough times? Will we ultimately make the choose to walk a new path to a more sustainable future for our water supply in the Colorado River Basin that supports the needs of water users and supports the health of our rivers?

These are the questions that will begin to be asked in earnest as drought takes it toll yet again in 2013. We will need to come together collectively, all stakeholders, and the answers we provide will ultimately decide the future fate of the Colorado River, its tributaries, and headwaters streams.