Water is already getting scarce

Facing Colorado River shortage, 30 urban suppliers pledge to target decorative grass, turf, grass seeds and other ornamental plants

NEW YORK — In an all-around effort to make up for a shortage of water supplies downstream of the water-rich Colorado River, 30 urban suppliers will offer water-quality and environmental consulting services in the city of Boulder and other Colorado River cities, including Denver.

The suppliers, which include several large municipal water districts, plan to provide these services as “grass sourcing opportunities.” Grass sourcing is the practice of getting the water-intensive but inexpensive ornamental grass species of interest from suppliers who are not able to meet the needs of their customers.

The suppliers are looking to provide these services in the following four cities:


Boulder may be an underdog in this battle, but it is not alone in the fight. Other Colorado River cities, including Denver, Colorado Springs, Fort Collins and Grand Junction, have also announced plans to offer these services to urban suppliers. And more will probably be added.

“The shortage of water upstream from the cities is definitely a factor,” says Bill McCutcheon, a partner in Boulder’s grass sourcing initiative. “It’s a real concern. The more that we see this scarcity becoming more evident, the more we’re going to be trying to tap into a resource that we already have.”

Water is already getting scarce

The Colorado River supplies an estimated 2,000 cubic feet per second of water to the Colorado, Wyoming and Utah states. But there is a limit to how much water each source can use, so suppliers are faced with the dilemma of either increasing their withdrawals to meet the needs of their supplies or cutting back on withdrawals to preserve water supplies.

“As water becomes more and more scarce, so we’ve got to pull back on supplies,” says Mark Ainsworth, senior manager of water resources at the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, a large Colorado River supplier

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