Westward Water Transportation:
Setting the Stage
Presented by: Mark Rude
August 1, 2014
Kansas Water Congress
Missouri River Supply
Missouri River
Omaha (El. 1080)
(El. 5280)
Kansas City
(El. 700)
Colorado River Facts
 Phoenix
 More secure water rights with about 1.6m af/year from Colorado
River; many of legal disputes with Indian tribes have been settled
 Central Arizona Project canal system and reservoir storage
 Las Vegas Area
 Depends on Colorado River for nearly 90 percent of the valleys
potable water (300,000 AF/year)
 Lake Mead has dropped more than 100 feet since 2000
 Southern Nevada Water Authority is proposing to build 285 mile
pipeline at a cost of $2B
 Concerns about Over-drafting aquifers from 6 valleys east of Las
V170,000 jobs
 Average Annual Colorado West Slope Trans-continental Diversion
(Current): Provides ¾ of Front Range Water Supply today
 Approx. 738,000 AF/Yr via Front Range
Where will the water come from?
The Pressure: Western Irrigations Issues Becoming Eastern US Issues
The Issue: Growth in the Western U.S. will outstrip available water supplies.
More Public-Private Partnerships and collaborative efforts are required.
Ag Conversions
Other sources
Socio-economic Drivers
 2010 Colorado Population- 5.0M
 Projected 2040 Colorado Population- 7.9M
 Projected California Population by 2050: 60 M
 Increase Colorado Water Demand Forecast- 190,000 t0 690,000 AF/yr
 Will result in continued conversion of ag lands
 80 Percent of Population resides in Front Range with 20 percent of Colorado’s
water supply (“80/20 Situation”)
Approx. 740,000 AF/yr diverted from West Slope (About 570,000 AF to Platte Basin)
Increased dependence on Colorado River Supplies
 Intensified pressure on rural communities to protect water
 Colorado River Basin is forecasted to have more than 3.2M AF/Yr shortage by
Source: Colorado Conservation Trust (2012) and others
The Setting
Water economics are at the “Tipping Point” where the
cost of water supports the development of new, imported
Growth in in the Western U.S. is at the threshold where
conservation and management practices cannot satisfy
demands without severely damaging agricultural
industries and economy
Climate Shifting will strain available physical supplies and
pit Growth advocates vs. Environmental groups
The Setting
 Precipitation for Water
 Missouri River Source:
De-minimus flow impacts for high
Water supply advantage vis-à-vis
climate change
 Issues relate primarily to Flood
Control and Habitat Restoration
 Limited (but important) barge
transportation commerce
 Politics
Kansas City
The Colorado River
The Colorado River provides
drinking water for 36 million
supplies irrigation for 15 percent of
the nation’s crops and
supports a $26 billion recreation
economy that employs 250,000
Findings of Bureau of Reclamation
2012 Colorado River Study
Options Considered by Bureau of
The Colorado River
• 2014: The Bureau of Reclamation cut the flow of water
into Lake Mead to a historic low. The agency predicts a drop
of 18 feet by June and 30 feet by June 2015, when water
levels could approach an all-time low.
• 2015: Lake Mead could dip to a level so low that there
would be a major decline in power generation at Hoover
Dam. That could destabilize the energy market and mean
more expensive bills for 29 million people in Nevada,
Arizona and California. Upstream, declining water levels in
Lake Powell, which straddles the Utah-Arizona border,
could cut off power production at Glen Canyon Dam as early
as winter 2015, affecting the power supply and pricing in six
• 2050: The Colorado River could be up to 10 percent drier
than today. Communities could shrink because there isn’t
enough water to support residents. Fires could rip through
towns because of a lack of water to fight them. Lawns could
be limited to the extremely wealthy. Farms could go brown
and barren, and a recreation industry dependent on the
river could go dry.
Missouri River Supply
Missouri River
Omaha (El. 1080)
(El. 5280)
Kansas City
(El. 700)
Kansas is likely to see more water
rights changes and transfers in the
They may range from a simple request to
change the point of diversion of a small well a
few feet to a major transfer of water out of
state that would involve the Water Transfer
Act as well as the law of another state.
For Transfers through a
High Plains State,
How favorable is Kansas?
Which state to host Water
Open Discussion

GMD 3 Presentation - Kansas Water Congress