From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):
You get what you plan for. That’s the message the Arkansas Basin Roundtable would like communities to heed as the state develops a water plan.
“Gaps in water supply exist now, both in El Paso County and in the Lower Arkansas Valley,” Gary Barber, chairman of the roundtable, said at the group’s monthly meeting Wednesday at the Salida Steam Plant.
The roundtable is developing its own input into a state water plan under tight guidelines imposed by Gov. John Hickenlooper.
There has been friction from the state Legislature, where SB115 is causing ripples. Its sponsors claim lawmakers should have a greater say, while state officials argue that the roundtables, the Interbasin Compact Committee roundtables have studied the issues since 2005 and should have a lead position in developing the plan.
As it stands now, the Colorado Water Conservation Board will deliver a draft plan to the governor
“What you hear from talking to people is, ‘Why should I care?'” said Sandy White, who represents the Huerfano Conservancy District. “It’s always dangerous in rural Colorado to say, ‘I’m from the government and am here to help’…In selling the plan, we need to identify what it can do to help the water user.”
“Utilities like the Pueblo Board of Water Works and Colorado Springs have done planning for years, but how has agriculture planned?” replied Alan Hamel, the Arkansas River basin representative on the CWCB.
“I think we want to ask communities to contribute to the plan, even if their projects are several years down the road,” said Betty Konarski, who represents El Paso County interests on the roundtable.
The roundtable is stepping up its outreach efforts to get even more input from county commissioners or town councils. It plans to hold longer meetings in the next few months to allow more time to discuss the plan.
Meanwhile, the IBCC is working on ironing out differences between the basins.
Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District Manager Jay Winner, who represents the Arkansas basin on the IBCC, said preserving agriculture and food security need to be planks in the state water plan.
“We need a balanced plan that serves all interests,” Winner said.
More Colorado Water Plan coverage here.