2012 Colorado November election: Congressman Gardner talks water at Berthoud town hall meeting

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From the Loveland Reporter-Herald (Pamela Dickman):

“Conditions at the beginning of 2012 are similar to the beginning of 2002,” Colorado Congressman Cory Gardner said at a town meeting in Berthoud on Monday…

“We must have the water that is necessary to thrive and grow,” Gardner said. That includes water storage, such as the proposed Northern Integrated Supply Project, as well as water conservation, Gardner said…

Decreasing business regulations, supporting water storage projects, protecting Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid are all in his purview this session, he said. So is supporting collaborations between private industry and the public sector — such as the Rocky Mountain Center for Innovation and Technology project in Loveland, which will bring jobs to the region — protecting agriculture from federal legislation that could harm the industry and urging renewable and traditional energy development.

More coverage from Bobby Magill writing for the Fort Collins Coloradoan. From the article:

Alarmed that the NRCS warned him this year’s mountain snowpack conditions are dangerously similar to those of 2002 – the year of the Hayman Fire and one of the Rockies’ worst droughts in recent memory – Gardner said these kinds of conditions will hurt Colorado farmers and the economy if more water storage isn’t available during dry years. “If we are going to have a long-term outlook for economic growth, we must have the water that is necessary to survive and grow,” he said. “That’s not only to meet the needs of the population, that’s to meet the needs of agriculture and industry. That’s why I think we need to go forward with projects like NISP, and we need to go look for other new projects.”[…]

Gardner said EPA regulations imposed by other federal agencies should not be used to stall new water storage projects, including NISP. The EPA criticized an environmental review of NISP for insufficiently addressing the project’s impacts on water quality and other issues. “The numbers speak for themselves: 69 percent-of-average snowpack,” he said. “Two-thirds of the value of the state’s agricultural production occurs in the South Platte Basin. Last year, a million acre-feet of water left the state that we could have stored right up here (in Glade).” Monday’s NRCS snowpack data show the South Platte River Basin, which includes the Poudre River, has a snowpack 72 percent of average, while the Laramie-North Platte River Basin, which includes Cameron Pass west of Fort Collins, has a snowpack 61 percent of normal. The driest river basins in the state are the Gunnison and Colorado river basins, which are at 56 and 57 percent of normal, respectively.

From the Greeley Gazette (Craig Masters):

The location at Northern Colorado Water was symbolic of what may well become a critical issue this coming year in much of rural Colorado; water for agriculture and industry. In his opening remarks, Congressman Gardner reviewed the current snowpack statistics, since snow on the ground in the winter is critical to water in the rivers during spring and summer growing seasons…

The 4th U.S. Congressional District, Gardner’s district, is only one of the several U.S. congressional districts spanning several states dependent on the flow of Rocky Mountain snowmelt feeding into the Platte River system.In response to audience questions about their concerns over the storage of Colorado River water for Mexico being considered by the Obama administration, Gardner stated he supports strong state control over water usage within the state. But he emphasized that to minimize federal intervention, it is important to establish workable cooperative agreements with downstream states. He further assured the resident, who identified himself as a local rancher, that no agreement for storage beyond 2013 had yet been worked out with Mexico. (The concerns were over a Dec. 2010 agreement to store 260,000 acre feet of Mexico’s Colorado River water in Lake Mead until 2013. This was to allow Mexico time to repair earthquake damage to water delivery infastructure in northern Mexico.)

More 2012 Colorado November election coverage here.

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