Photo by: Ken Geiger #ColoradoRiver
A water bank is bringing together farmers, cities and conservationists for a common cause.
Most people know the Colorado River for its iconic landscapes, but it is also an incredibly hard-working river. It provides drinking water for more than 36 million people in the U.S. and Mexico. It irrigates over 5 million acres of agricultural land – supplying a majority of carrots, lettuce, and other vegetables in the winter to U.S. consumers. It provides hydropower and supports a $26 billion recreation economy. It is critically important for people but is also essential for wildlife in a region that is mostly desert. But all of this is at risk. Demands on the river exceed supply and the river has been stretched to the breaking point.
In Western Colorado, the Conservancy has joined with farmers, municipalities and other partners to test a large-scale approach to this water bank concept.
In April, the Conservancy will launch a pilot project with the Grand Valley Water Users Association, the biggest irrigation provider in the valley. The project’s 10 participants will reduce irrigation on 1,250 acres, creating 3,200 acre-feet (about a billion gallons) of water savings that will improve river flows and provide system-wide benefits.