Salazar noted that the federal government already operates a desalination plant near Yuma, Ariz., to treat saline agricultural irrigation water as it returns to the river.
The report also cites the possibility of entities increasing cooperation to swap water credits and ‘‘bank’’ the valuable resource.
Advocates on all sides seized on elements of the 163-page report to bolster their positions.
Boulder, Colo.-based Western Resource Advocates said the study should quickly spur states ‘‘to press the ‘go’ button’’ on conservation, reuse and efficiency measures.
Denver-area water chief Jim Lochhead issued a statement urging a go-slow approach.
‘‘While this is a critical issue for Colorado, we have time to approach solutions thoughtfully,’’ he said.
In Wyoming, the Family Farm Alliance pointed to the implications for food production in study estimates that irrigated acreage in the Colorado River basin will decrease by 2060.
‘‘Policy makers and Colorado River stakeholders must understand the critical implications of taking 6 to 15 percent of existing irrigated agriculture out of production,’’ alliance President Patrick O'Toole said.
In Las Vegas, regional water chief Pat Mulroy at the Southern Nevada Water Authority, said she was more worried about a drier climate becoming permanent than about the ability of interdependent and river-dependent entities to work together.
‘‘You can’t conserve your way out of drought,’’ she said.
Matt Niemerski, with the Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group American Rivers, said climate change and population growth in the region make status-quo management of Colorado River water resources ‘‘untenable.’’
‘‘This is the start of the conversation,’’ Niemerski said, ‘‘about how the tens of millions of people who depend on the river for water are ultimately going to be able to live there.’’