Click here to read the draft. Here’s an excerpt:
Purpose of the Statement
The cities, towns, and rural neighborhoods on the eastern slope of Colorado are projected to be
between XXX, XXX, and XXX,XXX acre-feet short of water supply by 2050. This is 70 [check] percent
of the projected statewide municipal supply gap.
The eastern slope has 80 percent of the state’s population and provides 80 percent of the state’s economy and tax base and a large portion of the agricultural, recreational, and tourism sectors of the state’s economy. Eighty percent of the state’s population and job growth will be on the eastern slope. With the regional interdependence of the state’s economy, it is critical to Colorado’s prosperity that the supply gap be filled throughout the state.
Cities along the Front Range are national leaders in water conservation and reuse and will continue to make the most efficient use of their supplies.
These cities are struggling to obtain permits for small expansions to their water systems despite the environmental mitigation and enhancements these projects offer.
Colorado lacks a plan for meeting east slope municipal water needs. Beyond conservation, reuse, and the small expansion projects mentioned above, the default plan for our state is the dry-up of hundreds of thousands of acres of agricultural land on the east slope, some of Colorado’s most productive land. We reject this default plan…
Here’s a report from the recent Arkansas Basin Roundtable meeting, from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain:
Placing more value on agriculture, tying water to land use and ensuring that growth pays for itself should be ingredients in the state’s long-term recipe for water use. “I guess we’re just not hungry enough yet to see that we ought to be pledging a limit for water to stay in agriculture,” Beulah rancher Reeves Brown told the Arkansas Basin Roundtable last week.
The roundtable was reacting to a statement drafted last month at a joint meeting of the Arkansas, South Platte and Metro roundtables. “Filling the East Slope Municipal Water Supply Gap” rejects the “default plan” of drying up agriculture to fill city needs.
As alternatives, the statement lists conservation, reuse, current projects, ag-urban water sharing, more storage, protection of Colorado River imports and new projects using Colorado River water when needed.
The elements within the statement received 70-80 percent approval of roundtable members at the July meeting.
But some lingering doubts surfaced last week at the Arkansas Basin Roundtable, particularly because the Arkansas Basin is the most vulnerable to future ag dryups, permanent or temporary, in order to quench the thirst of cities. “We’re depreciating our interest in future water use,” Brown said. “The paper solidifies the fact that in 2016, there will be water disappearing from the Arkansas Valley for the benefit of upstate use. I don’t think we’re going to get the point made that ag water is valuable.”
Several roundtable members supported Brown, pointing out that efforts to make agriculture sustainable, preserving land to grow food in the future and the quality of food are all important considerations.
The roundtable is sponsoring activities that promote looking at the value of ag water — a Colorado State University-Fort Collins study and a conference for policy makers in October. But those efforts are taking longer to reach a conclusion than is called for in Gov. John Hickenlooper’s push to get a state water plan by December 2015.
Click here to read the joint meeting summary.
Land use planning and policy is at the heart of the water problem. Here’s a report from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain:
Agriculture isn’t the only issue Arkansas Basin Roundtable members have with a joint statement adopted last month by Front Range water interests. The statement fails to ask the state to confront land use planning head-on, some say. Much of the state’s land use regulation is at the city or county level. Water supply is sometimes disconnected from the process, even though decisions in one part of the state can affect others.
“Land use regulations and water supply plans have to go hand-in-hand,” said SeEtta Moss of Canon City, who represents environmental interests on the roundtable. “The message should be, ‘You can’t do everything you want because you might be hurting the rest of the state.’ ”
Dave Taussig, a Lincoln County attorney, advocated a stronger statement about the need for new growth to pay its own way, rather than sticking current Colorado residents with the bill.
Mannie Colon, a Canon City farmer, said the statement is short-sighted in limiting future water supply to the Colorado River basin, given the dependency of so many people on the basin already. The Missouri River could be more promising for a major project, he said. “We’re being asked to think outside the box,” Colon said.
More IBCC — basin roundtables coverage here and here.