June 18, 2012--Water conservation efforts in the High Country (Summit Voice)

How can something that is so inexpensive be so valuable? If your water comes to you from a municipality or district it probably costs somewhere around $5 per 1,000 gallons (which is about 8,340 pounds). That's a food grade product, delivered for $0.0006 per pound. Obviously, the water itself is worth a lot more, this is just the cost of pumping and treating the water. As Ben Franklin pointed out over 200 years ago, the true worth isn't appreciated until the supply is limited. Welcome to the drought of 2012. 

How can there be a record drought when the lakes are full and the rivers are flowing? As our water commissioner discussed in last week's article, to legally take water out of the ground, or from a river or lake, you have to have water rights that are older than the water rights of the other folks that also want to use that water. So even though some on the West Slope have a good supply of what we call “wet water”, we may not have the legal “water right” to use it. In any case, by the end of this summer our rivers and lakes will be much lower and if this turns into the “Drought of 2012 and 2013”, Colorado will have real problems.

What motivates people to conserve water?It turns out this is a really good question: different things motivate different people. Some may be motivated by the knowledge that water conservation is good for the environment, some by the knowledge that saving water saves money, and some by the knowledge that saving water saves energy. More than 12 percent of the energy used in the western U.S. goes to pumping, treating, using, heating, collecting, re-treating and releasing water. The EPA has estimated that the actual cost of using water is over $62 per thousand gallons, more than 10 times what shows up on a typical water bill.  

To view the full article, visit the Summit Voice. For a copy of the original article contact the WIP at (970) 247-1302 or stop by the office at 841 East Second Avenue in Durango, Colorado.