Urban Water Conservation- Reusing Water in Cities and Avoiding New Diversions: Club 20 Panel at Colorado State Capitol

The Colorado River drives Colorado’s economy. Without water from the river system $188.95 billion, or 59% of CO’s GSP, would be absent from our economy. Yet, the river system is stressed from years of continued drought and low levels in our savings accounts- Lakes Mead and Powell.

At the same time 2 years ago the Governor and CWCB presented Colorado’s Water Plan which has set a goal of 400,000 acre feet of conserved water per year. One way to reach that goal is to increase urban conservation and water reuse.

Craig Mackey, BWS Policy Director moderating the Panel

On February 2, Business for Water Stewardship hosted a panel on Water Reuse at the Colorado State Capitol as part of Club 20’s Rural Voices Day. Panelists talked about both the need for the Front Range to find better ways to maximize our water to avoid any new West Slope diversions and also about the economic impacts of water across the state.

Laura Belanger from Western Resource Advocates kicked off the panel by explaining that there is likely to be a gap for municipal and urban water of 560,000 acre feet by 2050 which means we will need a diverse set of water management strategies including reuse. “Reuse is increasingly reliable and cost effective, and many are interested including the business community,” Belanger said.

Next on the panel Abigail Antolovich with Denver Water described how the state’s largest water provider has embraced reuse and they are expanding the ways they reuse water in from western slope in their services areas in Denver. Abigail in her position of Water Efficiency, Reuse and Innovation Leader at Denver Water spends her days thinking about how they can maximize every drop of water drawn from the West Slope and said reuse is one of the best tools they have.

Senator Coram discussing the 3 bills on water reuse he has introduced for the 2018 Legislation Session

Senator Don Coram from Montrose described the bills he has introduced in the 2018 legislative session that expand the uses for reused water. As a Republican from the West Slope Coram knows the importance of water to his community’s economy and is looking for ways to encourage more urban reuse. He said, “We are at the opening chapter of what we can do with reuse and we need to treat and reuse our water whenever possible. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel, but Colorado needs to spend money on water reuse and use tactics being used around the world.”

To wrap up, Mizraim Cordero with the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce discussed why the Chamber has been involved in the state water plan process, “water is critical for our state and the economy and the Denver Chamber supports the 4 reuse bills as ways to increase our options for water efficiency here in the urban areas.”

Business for Water Stewardship will continue the conversation with the business community and water leaders on water reuse in Colorado. Stay tuned for additional information and events highlighting reuse as one tool in the water conservation toolbox.