Water wars: How Denver's lush lawns slurp away the Upper Colorado (VIDEO)

Last week, we reported on the anticipated demand for costly water diversion projects by 2050 -- and the conservation strategy proposed in Filling the Gap, a timely report from environmental groups. Unfortunately, most Denver residents won't read the report; most of them don't have a clue where their water comes from.

That's the grim conclusion one could reach after viewing Tapped Out, a recent video put out by Trout Unlimited and Boulder-based StoryGroup. The piece starts out with some ignoramus-on-the-street interviews along the Sixteenth Street Mall, in which Denver citizens are asked just that question: "Where does your water come from?"

The most common answer? "The sink."

The purpose of the video is to give the uninitiated a quick education in water diversion and the depletion of the Upper Colorado River basin. It focuses on two of the most pressing threats to the folks in Grand County right now. The Moffat Tunnel already takes sixty percent of the flow of the Fraser River to Front Range users, and now planners are talking about taking half of what's left. Meanwhile, the Windy Gap Reservoir is lowering water levels around Grand Lake itself, altering the ecology of Colorado's largest and deepest natural lake.

And what's it all for? As much as 60 percent of the metro area's water consumption goes to landscaping -- mostly that nice green grass imported from somewhere else. Hence, the argument that conservation and reuse can make a tremendous impact on future water projects; for more on proposed solutions, go here. And check out the video below.

More from our Skiing archive: "Save Snow: Aspen joins worldwide environmental protest, proves adequate at spelling."

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Alan Prendergast has been writing for Westword for over thirty years. He teaches journalism at Colorado College; his stories about the justice system, historic crimes, high-security prisons and death by misadventure have won numerous awards and appeared in a wide range of magazines and anthologies.
Contact: Alan Prendergast