Mike King (DNR): ‘We have seen our water projects not being developed at a rate necessary to meet our future demand’

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Patrick Malone):

“We have seen our water projects not being developed at a rate necessary to meet our future demand,” said Mike King, executive director of the Department of Natural Resources.
Dating back to 2008, the state has filled holes in its budget with severance tax money derived from drilling and mining. Funding pools that support construction of water projects have been raided to the tune of $173 million to balance the budget, and Gov. John Hickenlooper has proposed to move another $30 million from water projects to the general fund in the 2012-13 budget. The Department of Natural Resources has identified $100 million in potential projects, but most will have to wait until sunnier budget times to complete them because a meager $22 million remains in the funding pool for projects.

A handful of projects will receive enough funding for partial completion this year. The Rio Grande Reservoir in the San Luis Valley is one of them. Water is seeping through its permeable base and needs reinforcement. Adding capacity to the reservoir also is on the wish list…

Sen. Gail Schwartz, D-Snowmass Village, represents the San Luis Valley. She said the budget wrangling of recent years has ignored state law that dictates how severance tax funds are to be used. “We are paying a price, ultimately, by not addressing the state’s water concerns,” she said. “This has been a choice of all of us (in the General Assembly) that we have just created different priorities. The question is: How do we realign ourselves with this priority long-term?”

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