2010 Colorado election gubernatorial transition: Governor Hickenlooper — ‘…the natural resource that may, in the end, have the greatest impact on Colorado’s economic growth, is water’

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Patrick Malone):

Gov. John Hickenlooper said during his first State of the State address on Thursday that water will be a priority for his administration, and he believes the state’s first master plan for the future of water use in Colorado is a sturdy foundation…

He praised the Interbasin Compact Committee’s report released last month that for the first time articulated a strategy for sustained availability of water in Colorado. It supports conserving water for agriculture, but balances that with ideas to keep water flowing to urban population hubs. The report called for drastic departures in conservation from the status quo. “It’s not the total solution, but it’s within reach,” Hickenlooper said of the report, which he described as “the essential building blocks of a long-term, viable solution.”

Keeping water available to farmland is key to the state’s future, he said. “You hold highest and most sacred agriculture,” in his water philosophy, Hickenlooper said.

At the same time, ignoring urban needs for water could doom the state’s economy. “The bottom line is if Douglas County runs out of water or Aurora runs out of water and they suspend building permits for a year and that gets into Time or Newsweek, it affects the values of every person’s home in the state,” he said “We’re all joined at the hip already.”

To preserve a water supply that meets the state’s agricultural and urban needs, Hickenlooper wants to explore shifts in thinking, like subsidized rotational fallowing. “They get paid just like they would have, but they don’t farm a piece of land that year,” he said. “Ranchers and farmers are pretty receptive to this.”

More 2010 Colorado elections coverage here.

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