U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell provided the keynote address at the annual Colorado River Water Users Association (CRWUA) conference in Las Vegas last week. Jewell addressed hundreds of water providers including representatives from cities, agricultural irrigation districts and hydro-power administrations, among others, on the need for a balanced approach to bridge the growing gap between Colorado River water supply and demand.
The Secretary did not shy away from discussing the imminent threats posed by climate change on diminishing river flows and water supplies. She described this state of the river as the “new normal” and urged water managers to join her in supporting "healthy watersheds and sustainable, secure water supplies.” Jewell pointed to the binational agreement with Mexico, signed in 2012, as an example of cooperative water management. She commended the agreement for its help in initiating an ecological rejuvenation process for the Colorado River Delta.
For next Basin-wide steps, Jewell pointed to the proactive path set forth in the Colorado River Basin Water Supply and Demand Study. With improved water conservation from both urban and agricultural users, water recycling and water banking, we can begin to level out the imbalance between supply and demand in an expedient and cost-effective fashion. Solving this water shortage is possible as long as cooperation and what’s best for the river itself and its users are the ultimate goals.
Secretary Jewell's clear support for this road map can allow stakeholders to forge ahead in hopes of restoring the proper balance for the environments, people, wildlife and economies that depend on a healthy Colorado River.