Chris Woodka sat down with CWCB member Alan Hamel (Pueblo Board of Water Works) to talk about the future for water supplies in Colorado. Here’s his report from The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:
“To me, Flaming Gorge needs to be in the top two or three projects we consider,” Hamel said. “I do think Flaming Gorge could take pressure off agriculture in the South Platte and Arkansas basins. It could also eliminate some, but not all, of the West Slope consequences of water projects within Colorado.”
Through the roundtable process, Hamel has been working on a water bank concept with the Gunnison Basin Roundtable that would use Blue Mesa Reservoir as a backstop for junior water rights in the Colorado River basin, rather than piping water from it. Keeping a pool of water available for release during a potential downstream call would prevent the need to curtail transmountain water rights, under the roundtables’ proposal.
Flaming Gorge provides a different advantage by bringing a new source of water into the state, adding storage that could benefit the entire state as well. “With Flaming Gorge, or any new project, we need to prioritize. There are not enough resources to build all of them,” Hamel said.
Hamel, who formerly represented the Arkansas Basin Roundtable on the IBCC, sees a role for both state water agencies in moving a project forward. “To me, the CWCB is the policy side, and it has a talented staff and the expertise to evaluate a project,” Hamel said. “The IBCC can find common ground, communicate and resolve the concerns between the East Slope and the West Slope.”