Smarter water use needed to meet future demands on diminishing Colorado River, which provides over half of local water supply
Currently, the Bureau of Reclamation is considering a number of options to meet future increased demand, which include unrealistic proposals like diverting the Mississippi River or shipping icebergs from Alaska.
“Extracting all the value we can from each drop of water we already have is in the best interest of ratepayers,” stated Lani Lutar, president and CEO of the San Diego County Taxpayers Association. “Every water agency should maximize available technologies and incentives for conservation to help save the ratepayers money.”
Many San Diegans have reduced water use in the past few years, but preliminary research from Equinox Center, a regional think tank, suggests there is still low-hanging fruit to be plucked when it comes to water efficiency in the San Diego region.
Ann Tartre, Equinox Center executive director said, “Our initial estimates, which are conservative, show that single-family homes in San Diego could use 20-30% less than projected demand by using technologies already in existence and with no major impact on quality of life.” Equinox plans to release its full analysis in September.
The groups believe that Colorado River supplies should be valued as a critical natural resource in the region. San Diego imports more than 70 percent of its water from outside of the region, and a large percent of that comes from the Colorado River.
“It’s basic math – the less water we use, the less supply we’ll need from the Colorado,” said Megan Baehrens, executive director of San Diego Coastkeeper. “San Diego’s water leaders are taking steps to increase local water supplies through water recycling. But we all have an individual responsibility to conserve more to help meet future demands for our growing population and to protect the health of the Colorado River.”
San Diego isn’t the only area relying on the shrinking Colorado River. Over 30 million people in the Southwest U.S. rely on it to supply water for drinking, agriculture and business. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is working on the Colorado River Basin Study to identify ways to balance supply and future increased demand. Save the Colorado wants San Diego to start the drumbeat to ensure that conservation and cost-efficiency are top priorities in any action resulting from the study.
“The river is an economic and ecological engine for the entire Southwest United States,” said Gary Wockner from Save the Colorado. “Businesses, citizens and nature rely on it to survive. If it continues to dry up, we’re sure to see tragic consequences in the future. I believe we can collectively work to meet future demands and keep the Colorado healthy with conservation and cost-efficiency.”
About 50 people attended today’s event sponsored by Save the Colorado, which chose to honor the river on July 25 because the river officially received its “Colorado” name from Congress on this day in 1921. San Diego Coastkeeper, San Diego County Taxpayers Association, Surfrider Foundation San Diego and Resonance North Park, LLC signed on to the letter along with organizations and businesses from across the U.S. The Center on Policy Initiatives, Equinox Center and San Diego Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council supported the event.
For more information on the letter to Secretary Salazar and Governor Brown, or Colorado River Day, visit www.coloradoriverday.org.
SAVE THE COLORADO: The Save the Colorado River Campaign is a coalition of progressive companies and foundations that support non-profit environmental groups that are working to protect and restore the Colorado River and its tributaries. Visit us online at www.savethecolorado.org.
SAN DIEGO COASTKEEPER: Founded in 1995, San Diego Coastkeeper protects and restores fishable, swimmable and drinkable waters in San Diego County. Visit us online at localhost/sdcoastkeeper.
SAN DIEGO COUNTY TAXPAYERS ASSOCIATION: The San Diego County Taxpayers Association is a non-profit, non-partisan organization, dedicated to promoting accountable, cost-effective and efficient government and opposing unnecessary taxes and fees. Visit us online at www.sdcta.org.