There are three key elements to understand about water in Colorado:
- Water rights are private property rights that can be bought and sold for various uses.
- As Colorado's population grows, demand for water also grows.
- Water transfers have use implications. For example, when water is transferred from a farm to a city, the farm must be permanently dried up.
We have moved from an era of developing new water supplies to one of reallocating existing supplies.
Water allocation is the single greatest natural resource challenge we face as Coloradans. As our population grows, so does our need for innovative solutions that simultaneously maintain our most productive agricultural land while balancing our city's water requirements. The recently published Colorado Water Plan projects that by 2050 we will face a municipal and industrial supply gap of 560,000 acre feet, nearly 200 billion gallons of water, if we do not find solutions to conserve water resources and balance needs.
Water cannot be, and should not be, a zero-sum game that chooses winners and losers. One of Palmer's focus areas is the farming communities of eastern Pueblo County and Rocky Ford. The soils, growing conditions, and water supply reliability make it some of the best farmland in the western United States.
Rocky Ford cantaloupes and Pueblo chiles are iconic examples representative of southern Colorado. We are working with local farmers to preserve our rich farming heritage and regional identity. This work begins with ensuring water is available for agriculture. Solving our region's water challenges in a way that balances both municipal and agricultural needs requires Palmer and our partners to be at the forefront of developing new tools, partnerships, and solutions to address our region's greatest challenge.