The Colorado Basin encompasses approximately 9,930 square miles. As of early 2018, the largest cities in the basin are Grand Junction (population 61,881) and Glenwood Springs (population of 9,614).
Elevations in the basin range from greater than 13,000 feet in the headwater areas to about 4,300 feet where the Colorado River exits the state. The basin’s mountainous headwaters areas gradually give way to a series of canyons and gentler terrain as the river follows along the Interstate 70 corridor toward Grand Junction, the Grand Mesa, and the Utah border.
A substantial portion of the basin is comprised of federally owned land. Rangeland and forest are the predominant land uses in the Upper Colorado Basin (about 85 percent). Forested land is present throughout many parts of the basin. Livestock grazing, recreation, and timber harvest are the predominant uses of the federal lands. Active and inactive mines can be found in the basin, and coal mining occurs in the central portion of the Roaring Fork Valley and in the lower Colorado Valley.
Water Management Issues
Major Water Organizations
Expected Basin Growth
The Colorado Basin is comprised of all or part of six counties. Changes in population from 2000 to 2030, including percent annual growth rate on a county level, are shown below. During that time, the population in the basin is expected to grow by almost a quarter million people, or 99 percent.
|INCREASE IN POPULATION 2000 TO 2030||PERCENT CHANGE 2000 TO 2030||PERCENT ANNUAL GROWTH RATE|
Anticipated Water Demands
The Colorado Basin is projected to increase in municipal and industrial (M&I) and self-supplied industrial (SSI) water demand by 61,900 acre-feet (AF) by 2030. M&I is defined as all of the water use of a typical municipal system, including residential, commercial, industrial, irrigation, and firefighting. Large industrial water users that have their own water supplies or lease raw water from others are described as SSI water users. M&I and SSI water demand forecasts for the Colorado Basin are shown below.
The 2000 and 2030 gross demands are also presented in the table along with the projected conservation savings. Conservation practices include ordinances and standards that improve the overall efficiency of water use, such as installation of low water-use plumbing fixtures. As the table indicates, the Colorado Basin will need an additional 61,900 AF to meet the increased demands of M&I water use. The majority of the demand is expected to be met through existing supplies and water rights and through the implementation of various projects and processes. However, there are still some anticipated shortfalls expected in certain portions of the basin. This is also shown in the table.
|PROJECTED CONSERVATION SAVINGS (AF)||INCREASE IN GROSS DEMAND (AF)||IDENTIFIED GROSS DEMAND SHORTFALL (AF)|