CWCB: Board meeting recap

A picture named snowpackcolorado01312011

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The Colorado Water Conservation Board voted Wednesday to adopt findings and recommendations of the 2010 Statewide Water Supply Initiative. The document sets the framework to begin implementing strategies to meet needs that were first identified in 2004, but which have become more clearly identified in the past six years.

John Redifer, who represents the Colorado River basin on the CWCB, was the lone dissenting voice, saying he believed the Interbasin Compact Committee had pushed the recommendations. “If I’m going to support this, we need something in it that says we’re going to figure out the relationship between the IBCC, the CWCB and the roundtables,” Redifer said…

The CWCB spent Wednesday afternoon hammering out the wording of recommendations, which will be presented to the Legislature and Gov. John Hickenlooper. “These go far beyond the IBCC recommendations,” said Eric Wilkinson, who represents the South Platte basin on both the CWCB and the IBCC. “They advance what we’re trying to do.”[…]

The recommendations, which will guide CWCB policy, set up a six-year planning cycle for water projects that place an emphasis on multiple uses. It also puts a priority on projects that can be developed in the next 10 years…

The recommendations incorporate the IBCC’s four-pronged method of dealing with the shortfall: identified projects, conservation or reuse, new supplies and more agricultural dry-up. “It’s a Pollyanna approach,” Redifer said. “We’re not giving everyone what they want, but forcing everyone to give up a little bit.”[…]

Robert Longenbraugh, a former deputy state engineer who is now a water consultant, said the recommendations do not fully incorporate groundwater as a way of meeting demand. The South Platte basin has groundwater levels that are at an all-time high, but continues to send water out of the state. “We need to seriously consider the importance of alluvial aquifers,” Longenbraugh said.

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Reed Dils reported that an average snowpack in the Arkansas River basin leaves out the continuing drought in the Lower Arkansas Valley or the extremely dry conditions in the southern mountains. “We need more snow in the San Luis Valley,” Travis Smith added in his report from the Rio Grande basin. “If we could only have a couple good years back to back.”

The Colorado-Big Thompson Project is on track to spill water for the first time in 11 years, said Eric Wilkinson, a CWCB board member and executive director of the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District.

The South Platte River is also facing very dry conditions on the Eastern Plains, a situation that mirrors the Arkansas River basin.

If snowpack increases over the winter, the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project could also spill. Roy Vaughan, the Bureau of Reclamation manager of the Fry-Ark Project, has cautioned water managers in the Arkansas River basin that a spill could be possible at Lake Pueblo for the last two years. Although it’s still too early to make predictions this year, there would be a spill at Lake Pueblo this spring if snow continues to pile up.

More CWCB coverage here.

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