”OpEd By Preston Padden In The Denver Gazette
Colorado’s New Housing Boom Meets The Water Crisis
A recent Denver Gazette article highlighted the urgency of our water crisis – “The Water Wars Of The West Have Begun” February 4, 2023. Colorado – in fact the entire West – is in a water crisis. Local Governments are imposing water restrictions on current residents. “Aurora water department warns of drought projections, need for restrictions”, Denver Gazette, February 6, 2023.
Colorado Attorney General Weiser has announced that he is not afraid to sue other States for using more than their legal share of water from the Colorado River. New York Hedge Funds are buying up our water rights hoping to turn our water scarcity into a “Trillion Dollar opportunity”. CBS News, January 31, 2023, “New York Investors Snapping Up Colorado River Water Rights, Betting Big On An Increasingly Scarce Resource”.
In an ominous sign of what could happen to current residents of Colorado, the NY Times reports that a community of $500,000 homes on the border of Scottsdale, AZ just was told that Scottsdale can no longer supply them with water. They can’t shower, wash dishes or flush commodes. Their homes are unlivable.
At the same time, local governments throughout Colorado continue to approve Hundreds of Thousands of new homes – homes that will need water – water that we don’t have. Eastern Boulder Country where my wife and I live is an example. A marketing brochure for a new retail development on the Lafayette/Erie border touts 59,000 new homes in the pipeline just in our little area – 59,000 new homes! Multiply that many times over to get a sense of what is happening throughout Colorado.
Some local governments argue that they make residential developers identify “new” sources of water for their developments. But this argument is specious. First, there are no “new” sources of water. Our water supply is finite. Second, if those “new” sources of water were not earmarked for new homes, those “new” sources would be available to serve existing residents.
There are powerful forces that want to keep approving an endless stream of new homes – developers, builders and Local Governments (who like the impact fees they collect).
But continued Local Government approval of Hundreds of Thousands of new homes is not sustainable in the face of our water crisis. It is imperative that Colorado Local Governments pause the approval of new homes. Your ability to shower, wash dishes, flush your commode – live a normal life, depends on it.”