Colorado's Water Conundrum
About 80% of Colorado’s water falls on the west side of the Continental Divide, but about 80% of our population lives on the east side of the mountains. To divert that precious resource to Colorado residents, engineers have carved tunnels and canals that pipe water to lakes and reservoirs along the Front Range.
You can see an example of this trans-mountain diversion system when you head southwest on Hwy 285. The Roberts Tunnel on the north side of the highway near Grant announces the end of a tunnel that diverts water from Dillon Reservoir to the South Platte. It’s just one of many projects set up since the 1920s to bring water to the population centers along the Front Range.
While this massive plumbing system moves water across Colorado’s mountains, the western slope is deep in drought, so there’s less water to pull from that part of the state. This will undoubtedly sharpen the need for the Front Range to figure out how to curtail its water use further rather than rely on diverting more water from the western slope.