IBCC: Portfolio tool assessment completion is on the horizon, after that a new statewide water plan

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Three years of work will culminate, possibly as soon as May, as the Interbasin Compact Committee gets the final assessment of its portfolio tool from basin roundtables. Gov. John Hickenlooper wants to use the information in shaping a statewide water plan. “It remains to be seen how this information will be used,” said John Stulp, director of the IBCC and Hickenlooper’s water policy adviser. “I think the scenarios we focus on will involve all four legs of the stool.”

The IBCC has chosen to look at identified projects, municipal conservation, new projects and alternative ag transfers as the pillars for meeting future water needs. Environmental groups have developed their own reports that eliminate new large transmountain water projects from the planning.

Meanwhile, the Arkansas Basin Roundtable has launched a new effort to show the future need for agriculture as well. The area roundtable also has tried to stress the importance of building more storage as an overriding concern for all of the strategies.

More coverage from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

About 300 people, a mix of roundtable members and others concerned about water, cycled through conversations about how to meet state water needs at Thursday’s Roundtable Summit. The seating arrangements ensured different basins were represented at each table.

“A woman from the Southwest corner of the state was saying, ‘How can the Colorado River demand conservation, when they’re not doing it themselves?’ I was amazed that someone from the Front Range didn’t have to bring that up,” said Paul Fanning, public affairs coordinator for the Pueblo Board of Water Works…

Most of the work by roundtables matched demand to supply, but even then there were serious outcomes. In one model, 48 percent of the South Platte River basin’s farmland was dried up.

“Our group came to the conclusion that it’s time to do something,” said Gary Barber, chairman of the Arkansas Basin Roundtable. “Everyone realized that options we have now are being foreclosed because we’re not acting as a state.”[…]

“Some from the Western Slope are beginning to say the East Slope deserves some water. I think that’s awesome,” [Former state engineer Jeris Danielson] said. “Now we’re beginning to talk about what pace we’re both comfortable with, or at least to have the same level of ‘uncomfortability.’ ”

More coverage from Eric Brown writing for The Fence Post. From the article:

Preserving future water for the state’s farmers and ranchers was a topic that came up as much as any during the discussions at the all-day Statewide Roundtable Summit. At that event, representatives of each of Colorado’s river basins convened to discuss plans and ideas for solving the water-supply gap that’s expected because of the state’s rapid population growth. The Statewide Water Supply Initiative study, compiled by the Colorado Water Conservation Board, estimates the South Platte River Basin alone will face a water-supply gap of between 36,000 and 170,000 acre-feet by 2050.

Thursday’s event served as an opportunity to refine those ideas before a May meeting of the Interbasin Compact Committee — a 27-member committee established to address statewide water issues.

During the discussions in Broomfield, all parties agreed there isn’t one silver bullet to solve future water issues, that new water supplies and water conservation will both be needed, and the depleting of the state’s agriculture production should be minimized as municipalities and industries search for their future water supplies.

Everyone at the event, including the governor, said the unanimous conclusions reached Thursday marked a milestone for water talks, as the state’s water providers — representing diverse interests and regions — couldn’t come to any agreements as recently as last year.

Hickenlooper said that protecting agriculture’s water will be one of his highest priorities.

More IBCC — basin roundtables coverage here.

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