A landmark Colorado River study that the San Diego County Water Authority helped develop was honored Thursday by the U.S. Department of Interior. Interior Deputy Secretary David Hayes presented California and its Colorado River water contractors -- in partnership with six other states that tap the river -- with the prestigious “Partners in Conservation Award” for completing the Colorado River Basin Supply and Demand Study.
The award recognizes a major collaborative effort to address one of the most pressing natural resource issues for the Southwest and the nation -- the uses and management of the Colorado River. The study is the most comprehensive attempt to quantify and address expected water supply and demand imbalances in the river basin. It evaluates the river’s ability to continue providing wildlife habitat, recreation, hydropower and water for 30 million people from San Diego County to Wyoming.
Halla Razak, director of the Water Authority’s Colorado River Program, said the report is significant because it involved federal, state and local agencies, conservation groups and Native American tribes with a stake in the river’s future. About 55 percent of the Water Authority’s supplies are from the Colorado River.
“This study highlights the need for stakeholders to continue working together to ensure that the Colorado River will be a sustainable resource for all its users,” Razak said.
The basin study projects water demands on the Colorado River through 2060 using scenarios that account for variables such as population growth, socioeconomic conditions, drought and climate change. It also outlines strategies to eliminate or reduce expected imbalances between water demand and supply. Options include importing more water, conservation, and water reuse and recycling. The final report is expected in November.
Study partners included the seven states that rely on water from the Colorado River, local water agencies that contract for that water, the Bureau of Reclamation and other federal agencies charged with administering the river and related resources.
The Water Authority receives Colorado River water as part of a long-term water conservation and transfer agreement with the Imperial Irrigation District, and from two projects that conserved water by lining portions of the All-American and Coachella canals with concrete. The Water Authority also buys Colorado River water from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.