Arkansas River Basin Water Forum recap

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The subject [agriculture to urban tranfers and HB 10-1159] was revisited this week at the Arkansas River Basin Water Forum, an annual convention that brings together water interests up and down the river.

“The Colorado Water Congress had not taken a position on the bill. It died on a Friday and we were due to consider it the next Monday,” said Doug Kemper, director of the CWC, in remarks to open the forum. Kemper explained the CWC, a powerful lobby for state water interests, was divided about the bill, with some members making the argument that the IBCC was already working on mitigation issues.

“I think it’s something we need to look at,” said Jeris Danielson, a former state engineer who is now a water consultant. Among his clients is Aaron Million, who wants to build a pipeline from Flaming Gorge to Colorado’s Front Range. “That whole issue has to be examined.” Danielson has frequently advocated transmountain diversions as an answer to what he terms: “That giant sucking chest wound we call Denver.”

Denver will need an additional 700,000 acre-feet of water by 2050, and addressing that gap was the main reason the IBCC was formed in 2005 by the Legislature. Its work has been slow — some say glacial — with most of its time spent building trust and honing data. Members have shifted from making political statements early on to conducting tabletop exercises of which strategies — conservation, ag dry-up or imports — might work best to meet the gap. In January, at the CWC convention, Gov. Bill Ritter also pressed the IBCC to work faster and meet more often toward developing compacts within the state. “The days of Denver taking the water and saying, ‘see you,’ are over,” Danielson said. “But the Front Range will get the water. We need to make it palatable for everyone involved.”

More Arkansas River Basin coverage here.

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