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Interstate Water Management Committee Meeting Summary: January 17, 2023 — “CO River Transbasin Diversions”

Link to recording: https://youtu.be/dK0GuaU85wk

  1. Call to Order – Drew Dehoff, SRBC; Chair
  2. Introductions of participants  : Drew Dehoff, Beth Callaway, Aaron Goddard, Abby Ebach, Adel Abdallah, Bennett Bearden, Beth Brown, Bob Bacon, Chace Tavelli, Erin Spry, Jeff Cowley, Jen Verleger, Jennifer Schellpeper, Kim Nimmer, Katherine Zitsch, Luke Wang, Meena Westford, Pooja Kanwar, Randy Hadland, Robby Short, Scott Kaden, Shaili Pfeiffer, Steven Omber, Tim Hall,Trevor Ellis ,Wade Lossman, Zack Becker, Abby Ebach, Andrew, Edward Swaim ,Elizabeth Kerby, Jessica Arm, John Barr, Wei Han, Wes Cattoor.
  3. Transbasin Diversion Webinar Series Presentation: “CO River Transbasin Diversions” by Meena Westford, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and Jeff Cowley, Wyoming State Engineer’s Office

Meena started with an introduction to the service area and history of MWD as well as the key elements of the Colorado River Compact of 1922. It is clear that the Compact overallocated the River; on average the river has supplied ~12MAF. MWD is a junior priority water user in California (of 4.4MAF total allocated among four users). Population growth has grown but overall water use has been declining due to conservation programs in the MWD service area; average use is 120 gallons per day. MWD has invested $1.5B in conservation, recycled water and groundwater recovery. While agricultural use is the greatest consumptive use in the CO River system urban conservation is still important. The 2003 Quantification Settlement Agreement is an example of ag to urban water transfers, which started multiple agricultural senior priority user partnerships (i.e.- conservation and fallowing programs). Moving water from Northern California allows MWD to back off its CO River storage water needs in Lake Mead.

Dating back to 2006 there is record of the 7 CO River Basin States recognizing the need for long-term augmentation of system water supplies.

Examples of proposals:

  • CA undersea aqueduct – 1950 and 1966. Studies to evaluate the feasibility of transporting water from the Gulf to CA.
  • “CA Dreaming” – Pacific Northwest transport of water to southern US.
  • Black & Veatch 2007 study of water imports using ocean routes – cost to transport up to $4k/AF. Meena’s take is that we don’t likely have the economics and political will to do this.

Examples of major augmentation options – ocean desalination (more likely smaller scale and localized), stormwater capture, weather modification.  2008 study determined options need to be more refined.

2012 CO River Basin Water Supply and Demand Study – augmentation opportunities worth exploring include brackish groundwater desalination, coalbed methane produced water, conjunction use, river basin imports (Missouri or Mississippi, Bear, Snake, Yellowstone, Columbia Rivers).

Pure Water Southern California Program – treated recycled wastewater from homes would be considered a new source of water (i.e.- 60 miles of pipeline to groundwater basins, industries or MWD drinking water plants). CO River partners (Southern NEvada Water Authority, Arizona Dept of Water Resources, Central Arizona Project) are interested in using this water to act as an exchange for CO River allocations.

Jeff Cowley discussed current conditions in WY and in the CO River Basin. Predicting 40% of the snowpack will actually make it to the river. The City of Cheyenne, located in the Eastern Plains of the state, constructed a water diversion from the Little Snake River (in the central part of the State and a tributary to the CO River system). The water is transported through the Sierra Madre Mountain Range into Seminoe Reservoir for storage, then piped through Rob Roy Reservoir through the Snowy Range Mountains to the City. On average 8-9,000 AF is transported. Cheyenne relies half on the transbasin diversions and the other half on local water. As the diversion was made, considerations had to be made concerning the North Platte River Decree and Platte River Recovery Implementation Program.


4. 2023 ICWP internships announcement

Beth reminded everyone that ICWP’s 2023 Spring internship program applications are due by January 20th.

5. 2023 Work Plan

  • Interstate litigation webinar series
  • Compact case studies
  • Priority topic?


6. Set next meeting