Dry spell could spell trouble, River District to propose solutions

By: Therese O'Shea Email
By: Therese O'Shea Email

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - With recent drought conditions, there may be no better time to discuss the state of our river here in Western Colorado. Tonight, the community is invited to come out, listen, learn, and voice their concerns on what's turning out to be a difficult water year in Mesa County.

Water is flowing… but not quite like it has in years past.

"Last year was a historically high year. So we're between 30 and 40 percent of average, and last year was way higher than average,” says Hannah Holm, coordinator for the Water Center at Colorado Mesa University. "It has been a very, very dry winter and a very warm spring."

It could spell out an even drier summer, when water is especially important for irrigation and keeping endangered fish alive.

Holm says the area between DeBeque Canyon and where the Gunnison River starts is a major habitat for these fish.

"So there are a number of cooperative efforts among all the water users to try to keep enough water in the river for the fish so that they can recover,” she says.

But in a drought year like this, it's not so easy to meet everyone's needs.

"And there's a possibility that going forward we could be facing more dry years,” says Holm.

With the state population likely to double by 2050, Coloradans will need more water in years to come.

"We have more demands coming on the water and we have the same or possibly less water to draw on. So we're going to have to get really creative,” she says.

Tonight's river meeting will focus on all of this, plus touch on the history of the Colorado River District, celebrating its 75th year. They also plan to look ahead to plan for the future of Mesa County’s water usage and what we can do to prepare for potential droughts to come.

The meeting starts at 6:30 tonight over at Colorado Mesa University, it will be held in the ballroom of the University Center. All are welcome to attend.

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