Vail Valley: Waterwise Wednesday

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From the Vail Daily:

David Dittloff, regional outreach coordinator from the National Wildlife Federation, will speak about climate change and water resources in Colorado from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., Wednesday in the Vail Town Council Chambers.

More Eagle River watershed coverage here.

Governor Ritter names Jim Martin to lead DNR

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From the Associated Press via the The Colorado Springs Gazette:

Martin currently heads the state Department of Public Health and Environment. He starts his new job Nov. 16…

Before heading the health department, Martin was executive director of Colorado-based Western Resource Advocates, an environmental law and policy organization. He also has headed the Natural Resources Law Center at the University of Colorado School of Law and worked for former U.S. Sen. Tim Wirth of Colorado.

“Jim has proven himself time and time again as a strong leader and innovative policy maker,” Ritter said. “His leadership style is one of consensus-building and problem-solving, and he has broad respect among stakeholders and a great record of public service.”

More coverage from The Denver Post (Bruce Finley). From the article:

Starting Nov. 16, Martin will lead state government efforts to address looming challenges such as ensuring enough water to sustain fast-growing mountain communities and balancing natural ecosystems with the expansion of oil and gas drilling. He will replace departing Natural Resources director Harris Sherman, who has been confirmed by the Senate to serve as the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s undersecretary for natural resources and environment, overseeing the Forest Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service…

“Colorado will be well-served by the depth and breadth of his subject-matter expertise on the issues critical to the mission of the Department of Natural Resources, including public lands, water and energy,” Ritter said in a statement. “His leadership style is one of consensus-building and problem-solving, and he has broad respect among stakeholders and a great record of public service.”[…]

“I am humbled by the governor’s confidence in me, and I look forward to working with all of the interested stakeholders in building a lasting legacy for Colorado,” Martin said in a statement…

Environment advocates said Martin can help Colorado make good choices. “Martin’s leadership on the state air commission was essential to cutting mercury pollution 90% from coal-fired power plants in 2007,” said Matt Garrington, a spokesman for Environment Colorado. “Martin was key to protecting our drinking water and making sure oil and gas development is done right.”

More coverage from The Durango Herald (Joe Hanel). From the article:

[Former DNR director Harris] Sherman and Martin worked in tandem to lobby for new environmental rules for the gas and oil industry. After the Legislature passed bills that led to the new rules, Martin and Sherman both took seats on the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, the state agency that approves drilling permits…

The Department of Natural Resources includes the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, state parks, the Division of Wildlife, the Water Conservation Board, mining regulators and the state water engineer.

More coverage from the Denver Business Journal. From the article:

Martin was executive director of Western Resource Advocates from 2004 to 2006, and previously was director of the Natural Resources Law Center at the University of Colorado Law School. He was senior attorney and director of the energy program for Environmental Defense, and from 1986 to 1992 worked for former U.S. Rep. and Sen. Tim Wirth, including four years as state director and counsel. Martin holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from Knox College in Illinois and a law degree from Northwestern School of Law at Lewis and Clark College in Oregon.

More Colorado water coverage here.

Ed Quillen on the politics of storage

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From The Denver Post (Ed Quillen):

By the fall of 2002, after some dry years, many Colorado reservoirs set record lows. You could drive for miles along Blue Mesa Reservoir, west of Gunnison, and instead of seeing static stored water, you’d see the river flowing toward a greatly shrunken pool. Some towns banned all outdoor water use. Ancient cottonwoods died along dry ditches. Faced with such dismal scenes, Gov. Bill Owens promoted Referendum A, which would have authorized $2 billion in bonds for new water storage. Although most prominent Republicans supported it (Scott McInnis was the rare exception), Referendum A failed in every one of our 64 counties. Coloradans could see the obvious six years ago. We didn’t have a shortage of storage, given all those shriveled reservoirs that had ample room for more water; we had a shortage of water…

So like it or not, we’ll likely need some more storage. Where to get it? We could start by maintaining what we’ve already built. According to the state engineer’s office, which inspects dams, Colorado has lost 117,650 acre-feet of storage because of decrepit dams; they lose reservoir capacity because it’s unsafe to put in as much water as the dams were designed to hold.

More Colorado water coverage here. More Referendum A coverage here.