Colorado hits a “hard pause” on water demand management as it waits for other states to catch up

Colorado is taking a “hard pause” on investigating the viability of demand management, a program that would allow the state to pay water users to temporarily and voluntarily conserve water and store what’s saved in Lake Powell for future use.

“No more energy spent on this right now,” Colorado Water Conservation Board chair Jaclyn Brown said this week. “Until the facts change; until someone brings us new information.” 

Demand management was a key component of the 2019 Drought Contingency Plans agreed upon by all seven states in the Colorado River Basin. The idea was that the Upper Basin states — Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming — would each investigate the feasibility of paying water users to conserve water on a temporary and voluntary basis and then store the extra in Lake Powell in a special 500,000 acre-foot “account.” Then, if needed, that water could later be used by the Upper Basin states to meet delivery requirements specified in the Colorado River Compact. 

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