‘Water affects us all’ — Rachel Richards #COWaterPlan

Gore Canyon rafting via Blogspot.com
Gore Canyon rafting via Blogspot.com

Here’s a letter to the editor about the Colorado Water Plan written by Rachel Richards that is running in the Aspen Times:

Water affects us all

Gov. John Hickenlooper’s mention of the Colorado Water Plan in his 2014 State of the State address reinforces just how important the issue of water is for everyone in every region of Colorado. Water is critical to our common future, not just for growing cities, but to support Colorado’s traditional economies of agriculture and tourism, the natural environment and recreation opportunities.

Whether you are visiting the state, or a local out there hunting, fishing, skiing, rafting or just enjoying the scenic views, the health of our rivers and environment is what most determines the great Colorado outdoor experience. And that great experience, enjoyed by so many on or along the Colorado River and its tributaries, generates $26 billion annually for the economies of Colorado and the Southwest as well as a quarter million sustainable American jobs.

I and other members of the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments look forward to working with the governor on the Colorado Water Plan. His focus on conservation and practical solutions will be critical to ensuring a balanced protection of water for our cities, farms and the rivers that sustain our Colorado way of life.

From Steamboat Today (Paul Stettner):

The number of water users is growing and the demand on this limited resource is increasing — in some situations leading to curtailment of use…

Two primary documents that guide the planning process are the Colorado Water for the 21st Century Act (The Act) of 2005 and the Governor’s Executive Order D2013-005. Both documents set forth key values to be incorporated in the water plan. These are: a productive economy that supports vibrant and sustainable cities; viable and productive agriculture and a robust skiing, recreation and tourism industry; efficient and effective water infrastructure promoting smart land use; and a strong environment that includes healthy watersheds, rivers and streams and wildlife.

Overall, we, the Community Alliance of the Yampa Valley, agree with these values, but are concerned that healthy watersheds, rivers and streams might be sacrificed for the other values.

In our comments to the Yampa/White River Basin Roundtable, the Community Alliance encouraged members of the roundtable to ensure that the value of a healthy river system is given high priority in the Yampa/White Basin Plan. Our full comment may be found on the http://www.cayv.org website under the Yampa Basin tab.

Various sources tell us that the Yampa River is under-allocated, has surplus flows and therefore is targeted by some for more development and higher utilization. This can have many meanings, and effects — some detrimental to the health of the river system. The Community Alliance does not agree with the idea of unmitigated higher utilization and thinks that as one of the remaining free-flowing rivers, its natural hydrograph has value now and in the future and should remain as such. Approval of any proposed project should only be given after a rigorous analysis shows no negative impacts on existing water users or on the health of the river system.

More Colorado Water Plan coverage here.

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