Water users could be paid for temporary conservation

WYOMING – The Upper Division States of Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming, acting through the Upper Colorado River Commission (UCRC), in partnership with the Bureau of Reclamation (BR), announced their intent to launch a System Conservation Pilot Program (SCPP) for 2023. The SCPP is a key component of the Upper Division States’ 5-Point Plan to address the impacts of the ongoing drought and depleted storage in the Upper Colorado River Basin.

The 5-Point Plan was outlined by the UCRC in its July 18 letter to BR Commissioner Camille Touton. The request for proposals for SCPP projects is a major milestone in implementing the actions outlined in the 5-Point Plan.

The UCRC is seeking proposals immediately for the voluntary, compensated and temporary water conservation projects for 2023. The RFP is available  at http://www.ucrcommission.com/.

Project proposals must be submitted by Feb. 1. The Upper Division States and UCRC will review and select projects to implement this year. Full implementation of the SCPP is contingent on the passage of pending legislation in Congress and the finalization of the SCPP funding agreement between the UCRC and Reclamation, approved by the UCRC on Nov. 21. The goal is to have water conservation projects underway in April to reduce consumptive uses in the Upper Basin Colorado River system.

The SCPP is a significant step to begin to partially mitigate the water supply crisis in the Upper Colorado River Basin brought on by a drier climate and depleted storage. The SCPP will provide short-term reductions to reduce some impacts in the Upper Colorado River Basin.

However, longer-term and durable solutions are needed to not only stabilize the system but to rebuild water supply resiliency in the Upper Colorado River Basin. The Upper Division States, individually and through the UCRC, are committed to working with water users, tribes, nongovernment organizations, Bureau of Reclamation and other stakeholders to develop, fund and implement new water conservation, recycling and water efficiency projects that benefit Upper Colorado River resources.