Colorado River Water Availability Study - Continuation

The State of Colorado (State), Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB or Board), and the Interbasin Compact Committee (IBCC) are currently implementing three major initiatives, among several other initiatives in which the State plays a role, to evaluate State water supply and demand imbalances and methods to manage those imbalances through water supply projects and strategies. One initiative involves IBCC Scenario Planning and Portfolio Strategies, another is the implementation of SWSI 2010 recommendations, the update to SWSI in 2016 and the development of a State Water Plan and the other initiative involves the Colorado River Water Availability Study (CRWAS). The IBCC processes involve planning activities with the State Basin Roundtables (BRTs) to identify statewide supply and demand imbalances and use a Portfolio Tool to identify general regional solutions. Although this process provides viable data, methods, and tools to plan at a regional and statewide level, it does not spatially describe where water supply and demand imbalances occur on a tributary, water user or provider scale. The CRWAS process will work closely with the BRTs to use data, methods, and tools to complement the large scale of the IBCC process by using Colorado Decision Support System (CDSS) analyses to add future water supply and demands and evaluate corresponding imbalances in specific locations at the local level.

The State General Assembly enacted legislation between fiscal years 2007, 2008 and 2012 authorizing, funding, and directing the CWCB to evaluate water availability in the Colorado River Basin and its tributaries (local) through CRWAS. Legislative direction on CRWAS includes working directly with the BRTs to:

  • Continue CDSS model development,
  • Evaluate water demand alternatives developed through the BRT and IBCC planning efforts,
  • Quantify available water to meet any supply and demand imbalances, and
  • Perform a risk management analysis on Colorado River Basin issues.
Key objectives of CRWAS are to quantify water supply and demand imbalances based on BRT input, investigate strategies developed by the BRTs and IBCC to manage those imbalances, and investigate options to manage risks associated with the imbalances and strategies. This will be implemented at the local level and the State level as the risks and options to manage those risks differ depending on the geographic extent. Examples of risks associated with local supply and demand imbalances that must be managed at the local level include tradeoffs between consumptive and non-consumptive needs; or building storage projects where water is available only in high-flow years or less available under projected climate conditions. Risks that must be managed at the State level include maintaining compliance with the Colorado River Compact.

More Information about the CRWAS
CRWAS documents, including the Scope of Work for Phase I, Water Resources Planning Model Users’ Manuals, presentations and newsletters, are available on the CRWAS Supporting Documents page.