#ColoradoRiver District board meeting recap: ‘We should…table the issue of a big transmountain diversion’ — Eric Kuhn

Click here to read the summary. Here’s an excerpt:

At the October meeting of the Colorado River District Board of Directors, General Manger Eric Kuhn, an IBCC member as a governor’s appointee, reported that “in the last several years, new supply as a concept has evolved into a New Supply project from the Colorado River Basin and in the view of some on the Front Range, a large new transmountain diversion from the Colorado River system.”

The IBCC employs the metaphor of a four‐legged stool to describe the tools to meet the water‐supply gap. New Supply is one leg. The others are moving water from agricultural use to urban use; completion of water supply projects already on the drawing board; and municipal conservation and reuse.

According to Kuhn, going to the Colorado River for a big project will likely result in the reallocation of water now being used on the West Slope in agriculture to the Front Range urban corridor. “The bigger the project, the bigger the trouble and the bigger the reallocation if we get into trouble,” Kuhn said.
Trouble would result from Colorado exceeding its legal ability to deplete the Colorado River under the Colorado River Compact of 1922 and the Upper Colorado River Compact of 1948.
In Kuhn’s report to the Board, he said:

“For the last couple of years, we’ve had an ongoing debate within the IBCC and the IBCC’s New Supply Committee over the approach to take. I’ve suggested an incremental approach where we would move forward on projects on the drawing board or in permitting small, cooperative projects but put off any debate about big new projects until down the road sometime when we’ll have a better understanding of water availability and the negotiations among the seven basin states may lead to different ways of managing future Colorado River shortages.

“We should move forward with projects that we can agree on today and table the issue of a big transmountain diversion but not in a way that makes it more difficult or promotes it. In fact we should leave that issue neutral while we develop more information and develop supply from Identified Projects and Proc‐ esses (IPPs),” Kuhn said during Board discussion. IPPs are projects on the drawing board in the vernacular of the water plan.

Kuhn said that water planners on the Front Range are split with some wanting a big transmountain diversion as soon as possible and others who recognize problems, which include Front Range water users who would be affected by a compact curtailment. Kuhn noted that the water supply gap on the Front Range is not well defined as to where the needs exactly are.

More Colorado River Basin coverage here and here.

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