The National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI) is the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) primary program for improving water quality. It provides a way to accelerate voluntary investments in conservation on farms, but the current system can be costly and small transactions are often inhibited due to an economy of scale. The NWQI implementation plan acknowledges the impacts of drought, climate change, and excessive groundwater use, and proposes a range of projects to improve the diversion system, watershed health, storage, and the environment. In Colorado, these factors have drastically reduced water availability. In order to protect the agricultural economy and manage stream flows for recreational activities, there have been proposals to extract groundwater from the Cerrada Basin and export it to the Colorado Front Range.
Additionally, some soils naturally contain potentially contaminating substances such as selenium, which can be accelerated into surface and groundwater through irrigation and livestock grazing activities. The Geological Survey carries out water monitoring activities in Colorado as part of national research projects, collecting and analyzing chemical, physical, and biological properties of water, sediment, and tissue samples from across the state. In the 1980s, leaders in the water sector recognized the danger of draining aquifers and advocated for state legislation to control their use. Many organizations are now paying customers to install water-saving appliances and educating their constituents on how to reduce demand for water. With Colorado's significant population growth, climate change, and its obligations to other states, it is necessary for the state to adapt to growing competition for water.
Owners of water rights can build facilities on other people's lands in order to divert or move water to its place of use. Since 1989, the Colorado River Watch Program has been working with volunteers to monitor Colorado's waters. In most cases, interstate water pacts were negotiated to divide the use of surface stream flow. If a deficit were to occur, litigation would be lengthy and costly and could result in a reduction of water rights in Colorado after the pact. To reduce stress associated with obtaining water for housing growth, an optimal strategy is to prioritize building multifamily homes while continuously improving water use efficiency per unit. In the 1890s, South Platte River irrigators began searching the headwaters of the Colorado River to supplement their native water supplies; this led to the construction of the Grand River ditch which moves water from the Never Summer Range in Grand County through a notch in the continental divide to the Cache la Poudre basin. To ensure that North-Central Colorado has access to clean drinking water for years to come, local initiatives must be taken.
Organizations should continue paying customers to install water-saving appliances and educating their constituents on how to reduce demand for water. Additionally, owners of water rights should be encouraged to build facilities on other people's lands in order to divert or move water to its place of use. Finally, it is important that organizations like the Colorado River Watch Program continue monitoring local waters so that any potential issues can be identified quickly.