Augmentation – the central question

As I’ve written previously, the Colorado Basin Study suggests that augmenting water supply in the region is the most expensive and least quick approach to closing the supply-demand gap. But if folks do want to pursue augmentation, Juliet McKenna is asking the right questions:

The consequences of implementing any water supply augmentation plan need to be considered in terms of not only economics, but also in terms of where and how the water would be used. For example:

1. An additional 600,000 AF/year of water in the basin could support 1 million people. Will this supply be used to plug a supply gap or will it double the population living in eastern Colorado? Which outcome is desirable?

2. Would the cost (billions of dollars) be shared by all uses – people, industry, and agriculture? Or would only a subset of users, or new users have to pay?

So, as I think the authors of the Colorado River Basin Water Supply and Demand Study would agree, its time to start talking.

If you’re not already following Juliet, a water professional down in Tucson, I recommend bookmarking/RSSing.




  1. From my perspective, question 1 is also applicable to calls for conservation: when people suggest for example eliminating lawns, will the water saved be used for new houses?

  2. re: mahtso — I think the answer to your question is, pretty obviously, yes. The primary reason utilities and cities are willing to pay for conservation programs is to enable future growth. The Conserve to Enhance program developed by the Arizona Water Resources Research Center is an attempt to short-circuit that equation, but only seems to get it half-right. To some extent conservation is also to mitigate the effects of drought and other short-term supply impacts, providing a cushion, if you will. But I think that tends to be accomplished more by extraordinary conservation rather than ongoing, consistent conservation measures.

  3. Pingback: Another Week of GW News, December 16, 2012 – A Few Things Ill Considered

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