TU: System Conservation 'part of solution' for bolstering CO River flows, water supply

Photo/Havey Productions

For Immediate Release

June 22, 2018

Contact: Scott Yates, syates@tu.org, (307) 349-0753

Randy Scholfield, TU communications, rscholfield@tu.org, (720) 375-3961

Trout Unlimited: System Conservation part of the solution for bolstering Colorado River flows, water supplies

Ranchers, farmers embraced conservation measures under innovative program

(Denver) Trout Unlimited today issued a statement regarding the Upper Colorado River Commissions decision to pause administration of the System Conservation Pilot Program (SCPP).

Background: On June 20, the Upper Colorado River Commission adopted a resolution taking a pause on administering the System Conservation Pilot Program in the Upper Colorado River Basin. SCPP, funded by the Bureau of Reclamation and several major municipal water providers, is designed to enhance flows in the Colorado River and ultimately bolster water supply levels in Lake Powell. The UCRC indicated that it will turn its efforts to solving the issues associated with accounting, managing and implementing a longer-term demand management program to protect critical levels at Lake Powell. The UCRC also acknowledged the potential benefits of demand management/system conservation and the interest shown by producers in a program that provides voluntary, temporary and compensated reductions in water use.

So far, 2018 has been a near-record dry year. Current projections put both Powell and Mead at less than 50 percent capacity by the end of the water year. As a key water manager has noted, this puts the Colorado River system in uncharted territory.

Scott Yates, director of Trout Unlimiteds Western Water and Habitat Program, issued the following statement:

Were extremely proud to have worked with agricultural producers interested in the System Conservation Pilot Program. The SCPP has proved the enormous potential for water demand management to address drought and climate impacts on the Colorado River Basins water supplies. Weve learned that there is significant interest among ranchers and farmers for a program that compensates them for voluntary, temporary reductions in water use. That was a key question about SCPPwould agricultural producers respond to market-based incentives? The answer is an unqualified yes. TU believes that the SCPP in the Upper Basin has been successful in allowing producers to explore whether using their water right in this innovative way can benefit their operations. Many participants embraced the SCPP approach, especially if such a program can operate over the longer-term.

Yates added, Were facing another challenging drought year. The need for a voluntary demand management program that works for states, water users and the environment is more urgent than ever, and we look forward to working with our partners to move this forward expeditiously.

Cory Toye, Wyoming director of TUs Western Water and Habitat Program, said:

We applaud the UCRC and the funders of the SCPP for what has been accomplished to date. Trout Unlimited and its partners stand ready to engage productively in the UCRCs development of a longer-term demand management program.

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Trout Unlimited is the nations oldest and largest coldwater fisheries conservation organization dedicated to conserving, protecting and restoring North Americas trout and salmon and their watersheds. Follow TU on Facebook and Twitter, and follow our blog for all the latest information on trout and salmon conservation.