Colorado Water Plan: ‘We’ve got ample crises’ — James Eklund

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Colorado has suffered through drought, wildfires and floods in the six months since Gov. John Hickenlooper ordered up a state water plan. While simply having a plan would not have prevented any of it, state response might have improved if a plan were in hand.

“We know the plan isn’t a silver bullet. I’m reminded of that quote by the great water philosopher Mike Tyson: ‘Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face. We’ve been punched in the face,” said James Eklund, director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board.

Eklund addressed the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District Board Thursday, explaining the progress CWCB has made so far in developing the plan. The plan will be on the governor’s desk after the 2014 election, even if a new governor would be coming on board. That’s a parallel situation to 2010, when the Interbasin Compact Committee wrote a letter to outgoing Gov. Bill Ritter and Hickenlooper detailing its progress toward addressing a looming municipal supply water gap. That laid the groundwork for Hickenlooper to step up the effort of statewide water planning and his vow to develop a state plan before 2016. The planning process needs to continue regardless of whether Hickenlooper wins reelection, Eklund said.

“We’ve got ample crises, and we need to respond in a way to address the problems,” he said.

The plan would address the needs of agriculture, cities, recreation and environment in a way that avoids further dry-up of farms to support urban needs. To do so, the state will have to find new ways to cooperate in water projects, improve forest health in watersheds, protect property rights, preserve water systems and remove regulatory barriers to new projects, Eklund said.

More Colorado Water Plan coverage here.

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