The snow that falls on the mountains in Colorado contributes to more than just the beautiful scenery. Snow and other precipitation ultimately provide both the surface water and the groundwater that we use for drinking—not to mention the water that powers rivers and fills lakes for activities like rafting and fishing.
The majority of the life-giving water in Colorado's rivers and streams originates along the continental divide that runs through the majestic mountains. Colorado residents and visitors have a responsibility to keep our waterways free of litter and other pollutants to ensure a clean water supply to our amazing state.
Colorado Waterways and Droughts
Since 2000, the Colorado River Basin has been locked in a drought that experts say is likely to be exacerbated by climate change. Most of Colorado's water comes from snow that falls in the Rocky Mountains and is released into natural reservoirs that are gradually utilized over the course of the year. Beginning in 2000, snow has fallen more irregularly in the mountains, including in recent years when totals have been only two-thirds of normal—a concerning record low.
In addition, worsening droughts and rising temperatures have caused the Colorado River to shrink in recent years. In response, scientists are developing models to better understand how the climate crisis is fundamentally changing this critical 1,450-mile waterway.
Researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey have found that human-caused global warming, especially in recent decades, has caused rivers to absorb more solar energy, increasing the amount of water lost through evaporation. They've also found that the Colorado River is dwindling, threatening serious water shortages for millions of people who rely on it.
Ground water is water from rain and snow that that soaks into the soil. It is a vital resource in Colorado.
When water works its way through the soil to the underground "water table," it can pick up nitrogen, phosphorus and other contaminants. Pollutants in the soil can come from many sources including leakage from landfills, wastewater treatment plants and sanitation systems, gas stations and sewers, as well as from fertilizers used in agriculture.
The polluted water can then end up in public drinking water systems, posing public heath threats to Colorado residents.
Sustaining Colorado Watersheds
Former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper directed the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) to develop Colorado's water plan for the future. The top priorities were to strengthen urban water protection, safeguard water quality, improve water management, enhance vital river and catchment protection measures and support flexible water policies.
Over a two-year period, CWCB's roundtables have brought together stakeholders with a wide range of water needs, including farmers, ranchers, urban and rural communities and water providers to discuss the importance of flexible and reliable water supplies and to brainstorm ideas for maintaining them.
Colorado Businesses Promoting Sustainability
Businesses in Colorado are also getting involved in green initiatives and sustainability measures in response to a growing demand from consumers. Colorado consumers are increasingly looking to do business with brands that align with their values and that are making efforts to protect the environment and our natural resources.
It's critical that Colorado businesses learn to meet their present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. In order to achieve this goal, organizations should examine their approach not only to water consumption, but also to energy, materials, recycling, transportation and other aspects of their operation to determine what changes need to occur to make their business more sustainable for the future.
As a bottled spring water and bulk water delivery provider, Eldorado Natural Spring Water has long been a leading advocate of sustainability initiatives in Colorado. We're proud to say that we were the first bottled water company in the U.S. to introduce 100% recycled plastic bottles. Recycled bottles require 77% less energy to produce and generate 58% fewer emissions in the production process.
In addition, we recycle 96% of the waste from our bottling plant, including paper, cardboard and plastic. We even generate 50% of the energy for our Colorado headquarters from a rooftop solar system.
In short, we're serious about protecting the Colorado environment that gives us all so much.