Jul 06, 2021

Drought Conditions Force Utility to Use Colorado River for Drinking Water

Ute Water’s customers will start paying a 2% drought pumping impact rate on their bills to account for electric power and water treatment costs from using Colorado River water.

western water crisis

The Ute Water Conservancy District, serving Grand Junction and Mesa County, Colorado, has for the first time begun to mix Colorado River water into its Grand Mesa reservoir releases. 

According to The Colorado Sun, this action was taken to meet the water needs of 90,000 customers and preserve backup water supplies impacted by severe drought. Previously, drinking water has been drawn from runoff 11,000 feet high on Grand Mesa.

Ute Water is the largest water provider between Denver and Salt Lake City. The utility aims to protect supplies in its Jerry Creek reservoirs, which is 96% full, reported The Colorado Sun. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, the utility’s Grand Valley service area is in a state of exceptional or extreme drought.

According to The Colorado Sun, Ute Water has rights to pull a small amount of water from the Colorado River, but its junior rights are likely to be cut off when river flows decrease. The utility’s reservoir water falls from the Grand Mesa reservoirs and water must be pumped up from the Colorado River to a treatment plant.

The utility began taking about 7 cubic feet per second from the Colorado River on June 10, about 14 acre-feet per day. 

Ute Water’s customers will start paying a 2% drought pumping impact rate on their bills to account for electric power and water treatment costs from using Colorado River water, reported The Colorado Sun. For customers who use about 3,000 gallons a month, the extra cost will be less than 50 cents. 

Of the 14 acre-feet a day Ute Water plans to use from the Colorado River, only approximately 1.4 acre-feet will be consumed and remainder goes back into sewage treatment plants for treatment and into the river toward the Utah border, according to The Colorado Sun. 

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