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Water conservation and tech critical to meeting future demand

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OUR GROWTH SERIES CONTINUES TONIGHT WITH A LOOK AT A CRITICAL RESOURCE WATER NEWS 5'S ANDY KOEN TELLS US LEADERS ARE LOOKING TOWARD CONSERVATION AND NEW TECHNOLOGIES AS THEY PLAN DECADES INTO THE FUTURE TO KEEP DELIVERING WATER TO A THIRSTY COLORADO COLORADO SPRINGS IS THE LARGEST CITY IN THE STATE THAT'S NOT POSITIONED NEAR A RIVER OR OTHER MAJOR WATER SOURCE

SO, THE WATER SYSTEM THAT'S EVOLVED STRETCHES ACROSS 11 COUNTIES AND CONSISTS OF DOZENS OF RESERVOIRS AND HUNDREDS OF MILES OF PIPELINE THE UTILITIES BOARD NEEDS MAINTAIN THAT COMPLEX SYSTEM AND EXPAND IT IN ORDER TO MEET GROWING DEMAND

"WATER IS OBVIOUSLY A VERY SCARCE AND PRECIOUS RESOURCE" PATRICK WELLS IS AN ENGINEER WITH THE DIFFICULT JOB OF WORRYING ABOUT WHERE TO GET WATER HIS PROJECTIONS SHOW COLORADO SPRINGS REACHING A POPULATION OF 700-THOUSAND PEOPLE IN THE COMING DECADES "WE'LL NEED ABOUT 50 PERCENT MORE SUPPLY TO MEET THE CUSTOMER DEMANDS AND ADDRESS THESE WATER SUPPLY RISKS THAT WE'RE TALKING ABOUT" THOSE RISKS INCLUDE GROWTH, AS WELL AS DROUGHT, PIPELINE DISRUPTIONS AND TEMPERATURE INCREASES DUE TO CLIMATE CHANGE

ALL WERE CONSIDERED AS PART OF A NEW 50 YEAR "INTEGRATED WATER RESOURCES PLAN" "WE'VE IDENTIFIED A WATER SUPPLY GAP THAT WE WILL SEE, NOT CURRENTLY, BUT IN UPCOMING DECADES" WHICH MEANS THE CITY WILL NEED TO ACQUIRE NEW WATER SOURCES, BUILD BIGGER RESERVOIRS, AND PROBABLY BUILD SOME NEW PIPELINES THOSE PROJECTS CAN BE POLITICALLY DELICATE "THEY JUST CAME IN, BOUGHT THE WATER AND JUST REALLY HAD AN ECONOMIC AND ENVIRONMENTAL DISASTER THEY LEFT BEHIND

" DOCTOR JOHN BARTOLO IS A SCIENTIST AND FARMER AT COLORADO STATE UNIVERSITY'S ARKSANSAS VALLEY RESEARCH CENTER IN ROCKY FORD HE SAYS RURAL COMMUNITIES STILL FEEL THE STING FROM WATER ACQUISITION PROGRAMS IN THE 1970'S AND 80'S "WHEN CITIES LIKE COLORADO SPRINGS, PUEBLO, AURORA NEED THAT WATER, THEY TRADITIONALLY CAME OUT, BOUGHT THESE WATER RIGHTS FROM NORMALLY PRODUCTIVE AGRICULTURAL LANDS, DRIED THEM UP AND IT'S HAD A PRETTY DEVASTATING EFFECT ON THE LOCAL ECONOMY" WHEN FARMERS IN CROWLEY COUNTY SOLD THEIR WATER RIGHTS — THE FARMLAND HAD TO BE RETURNED TO ITS NATURAL STATE SO, OTHERWISE FERTAL SOIL NOW SITS UNPRODUCTIVE THE BUYERS, MEANWHILE, DIVERTED THE WATER UPSTREAM THROUGH VARIOUS MOUNTAIN WATERSHEDS INTO PIPELINES TO THE CITIES

"THE SOIL STAYS VERY, VERY WET WHEREAS THE OUTSIDE IS RELATIVELY DRY" SO, BARTOLO IS STUDYING IRRIGATION TECHNOLOGIES LIKE THIS DRIP LINE SYSTEM IT'S EXPESNSIVE, BUT EXTREMELY EFFICIENT "WERE USING ABOUT 50 PERCENT LESS WATER THAN A TRADITIONAL FURROW IRRIGATION THAT WE HAVE OVER THERE" IF A FARMERS REDUCE THEIR CONSUMPTION

IT CREATES NEW OPPORTUNITIES TO "LEASE" WATER RATHER THAN SELL IT COMPLETELY THE WATER LEASE MONEY CAN MAKE UP FOR THE LOSS IN CROP REVENUE FOR LEAVING A FIELD BARREN FOR A SEASON "I THINK WE'RE BEGINNING TO SEE NEW WAYS THAT FARMERS CAN USE THAT, MAYBE WORK COOPERATIVELY WITH THE CITIES RATHER THAN ANTAGONISTICALLY WITH THEM TO HELP GET THEM THROUGH TIMES OF DROUGHT AND THINGS LIKE THAT

" THE SPRINGS' 50-YEAR WATER PLAN CALLS FOR INCREASED USE OF AGRICULTURAL WATER "LEASES" AS WELL AS REUSING WATER AND IMPROVING CONSERVATION "IT'S HELPING US STRETCH OUT OUR EXISTING SUPPLIES FURTHER

" IN FACT, A DECADE'S WORTH OF TEACHING HOMEOWNERS IN THE CITY TO LIMIT WATER THROUGH XERISCAPING LIKE THESE DEMONSTRATION GARDENS SHOW — HAS PAID OFF "WE'RE ACTUALLY USING ROUGHLY THE SAME AMOUNT OF WATER THAT WE DID IN THE MID 1980'S WITH ROUGHLY 80 PERCENT MORE POPULATION" IT ALL MAKES UP A BALANCED PORTFOLIO OF WATER SUPPLY TO MEET GROWING DEMAND BUT BARTOLO SAYS WATER RIGHT SALES CONTINUE TODAY WITH MORE FARMS DRYIGN UP HE WONDERS IF THE PRICE OF GROWTH IS TOO HIGH

"I JUST CAN'T UNDERSTAND HOW THAT CAN HAPPEN, HOW WE CAN LOSE THAT SENSE OF VALUE FOR THIS WONDERFUL GOD-GIVEN ENTITTY THAT WE HAVE AND JUST THROW IT AWAY FOR WHAT, JUST WE WANT A FEW MORE JOBS A FEW MORE PEOPLE WE WANT ANOTHER STRIP MALL?" IF YOU'D LIKE TO LOOK THROUGH THAT 50 YEAR WATER PLAN, WE'VE LINKED TO IT IN THE DIGITAL VERSION OF THIS STORY AT KOAACOM HOVER ON THE NEWS TAB AND CLICK "STATE OF GROWTH" TO FIND THIS STORY AND THE OTHER STORIE

Source: Youtube

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