Water Diversions

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I wish to make it clear to you, there is not sufficient water to irrigate all the lands which could be irrigated, and only a small portion can be irrigated….I tell you, gentlemen, you are piling up a heritage of conflict! – John Wesley Powell, Speech, Los Angeles International Irrigation Conference, 1893

Artist’s rendition of proposed dam on the Price River.

Although many Western States are experiencing epic drought, Colorado headwater states are proposing to divert waters of the Colorado River that may trigger a number of difficult responses for farmers, ranchers and residents of Phoenix, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and other communities.

A huge quantity of new water diversions —more than 400,000 acre-feet of water—are being proposed in the headwater states for municipal, agricultural and energy development use.  This is more water than all Phoenix residents use in an entire year.  Moreover, this quantity of Colorado River water is just the beginning of new proposed diversions as states like Utah woo vast expansions of energy development that require gigantic new quantities of water.

Many new water diversions are proposed for urban users in the headwater states, which, per person, are among America’s biggest water users.  While residents in Phoenix, Los Angeles and Las Vegas spent decades learning to use less water through water conservation, many headwater cities procrastinated investing in water conservation programs.  One of the largest water diversions currently proposed in the Colorado River Basin, the Lake Powell Pipeline, is for a Utah city that uses twice as much water per person as residents in Phoenix, Los Angeles, Tucson and many other western cities.

Water conservation is an inexpensive alternative to many of the proposed water diversions sought in the headwater states.

Learn about current proposals to pull more water out of the Upper Colorado:

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