Water & Growth Update

A study commissioned by the Front Range Water Council was undertaken to explain the relationship of water to the Colorado Economy. The Council is made up of the state’s largest water providers, who are also importing most of the water from the Western Slope. The Front Range represents 82 percent of the population and 86 percent of income. According to the state demographer, the Western Slope will grow faster than the Front Range in the next 40 years, but in sheer numbers, the Front Range will still make up 78 percent of the population. Perhaps the most alarming computation in the recently released report was the economic output of a region divided by the amount of water diverted. By that yardstick, the Front Range showed a value of $132,268 per acre-foot, with Central Colorado (the Upper Arkansas Valley, Huerfano and Park counties) at $12,326, and the Western Slope at $7,200. The two areas most dependent on agriculture fell distantly behind with the Eastern Plains at $3,342 and the San Luis Valley at $1,209. Authors of the report admit agriculture is more dependent on water for value, while other sectors of the economy use relatively little water for the value of their output.