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Talking about demand management and how to leave more water in the Colorado River

Colorado River in Glenwood Canyon
Alyssa Barker
Rafters float the Colorado River in Glenwood Canyon. Figuring out how to leave more water in the river to bolster the water level in Lake Powell is a focus of both the state of Colorado and water managers on the Western Slope.

Lake Powell is at about one-third of its capacity. And water managers in the upper Colorado River basin are trying to develop a plan that would send more water to the giant reservoir — which serves as a water-savings account for the upper basin — in order to prop up the reservoir's falling water level.

The concept, called "demand management," involves paying willing irrigators to fallow fields and increase efficiency in order to leave more water in the Colorado River, which flows into Lake Powell.

Aspen Journalism's managing editor and water reporter, Heather Sackett, has reported that the Colorado River Water Conservation District, which represents Western Slope water users, is working on its own demand-management plan as an alternative to a plan being developed by the Colorado Water Conservation Board, a state agency.

Sackett spoke with Aspen Public Radio's Halle Zander in a piece that aired Oct. 15. Sackett talked about some of the core concepts that are shaping a potential demand-management program in Colorado and in the other upper-basin states.

Halle is an award-winning journalist and the All Things Considered Anchor for Aspen Public Radio. She has been recognized for her work by the Public Media Journalists Association and the Colorado Broadcasters Association. Before she began working full-time with Aspen Public Radio in September 2021, Halle was a freelance broadcast journalist for both Aspen Public Radio and KDNK. Halle studied environmental analysis at Pitzer College. She was an educator at the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies and at the Andy Zanca Youth Empowerment program, where she taught youth radio and managed a weekly public affairs show.