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.

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