The US Bureau of Reclamation this afternoon released its latest pass at quantifying water demand in the Colorado River Basin. Recognizing that there’s no one answer for what the demand curves might look like in the future, the agency looked at a range of six scenarios, based on input from the seven basin states on what each state thought its long term needs might be. Some highlights:
- basic US consumptive demand by 2060 will be between 13.8 and 16.2 million acre-feet
- add in water for Mexico and evaporation and you’re up to 18.1 to 20.4 maf
- a population of 40 million people by 2015 rising to 49 to 77 million by 2060
- irrigated acreage, now at 5.5 million acres, drops to 4.6 to 5.2 million acres
With the river having a total of 15-ish million acre feet to work with going forward, this suggests that, absent iceberg towing or a giant pipe from the midwest, we will not be able to do all the things here in the West that our representatives told the Bureau of Reclamation we would like to do.