RMCO's Water Preparedness Programs

RMCO works not just to reduce emissions of heat-trapping pollution but also to prepare for and adapt to the changes that may occur in the Interior West. The most important of those are what amount to the Interior West’s greatest vulnerability to a changed climate — the impacts of a hotter and drier climate on this region’s already-scarce water resources.

Our work on climate change and water goes back to our Colorado Climate Project, which developed the state’s first overall framework for how to prepare for the water impacts of climate change. We have worked since then for implementation of those specific recommendations, and more generally for new actions to understand the impacts of climate change and to address them so that we can meet the state’s water needs in a changed future.

One success so far has been helping to bring about an initial state government report on climate change impacts on water supply, in partial fulfillment of one panel recommendation.

Much of our work on water has been in partnership with a broadly representative group of organizations, from water providers to environmental groups and university researchers. Working with them, we have worked to develop a common agenda and then seek its implementation. For example, RMCO, based on our collaboration with others, submitted a set of joint comments to the Colorado Water Conservation Board on its draft Colorado River Water Availability Study Phase I, on behalf of RMCO and some of the participants in our Climate Change/Water Policy Committee, where we work for that common ground. RMCO also submitted our own separate comments.

When the Colorado state government was developing a new state water plan, RMCO worked with our partner organizations to develop a common set of recommendations for improving the plan as it went through the drafting steps. We submitted separate comments in October 2014May 2015, and September 2015, and then in February 2016 we submitted comments on the implementation of the water section of the Colorado Climate Plan.

Among our other water efforts have been three RMCO reports that focus heavily on the impacts of climate disruption on the Interior West’s water resources. The latest is Climate Change in the Headwaters: Water and Snow Impactsprepared by RMCO for the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments, which summarizes existing information on how climate change puts at risk water and snow resources and the many economic and social values that depend on them in six Colorado counties — Eagle, Grand, Gunnison, Pitkin, Routt, and Summit counties.

An earlier report is Hotter and Drier: The West’s Changed Climate, a RMCO-Natural Resources Defense Council report, released in March 2008. See also a summary of that report, the news release announcing it, a copy of key figures from the report, and a PowerPoint slide of those figures. The figures and slide may be used freely, so long as credit is given.

Our original report on water and snow impacts, RMCO’s first report ever, is Less Snow, Less Water: Climate Disruption in the West, a RMCO-Clear the Air report, released in September 2005.