From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):
Colorado must work with neighboring states to develop a Western water plan, Gov. John Hickenlooper said Thursday.
“We don’t want the federal government coming in and telling us what to do,” Hickenlooper told the state basin roundtable summit.
Hickenlooper, a Democrat, and former Gov. Bill Owens, a Republican, spoke to about 300 roundtable members and other members of the state’s water community during an all-day meeting to discuss water issues.
The roundtables were formed by the Legislature in 2005, when Owens was governor. They were the brainchild of then-Director of Natural Resources Russell George.
Hickenlooper said the roundtables are providing grass-roots direction for a state water plan he has tasked the Colorado Water Conservation Board to draft by the end of this year.
“Hundreds of people have been engaged in the roundtable process,” Hickenlooper said. “We go down into the grass roots and hear those voices and let the ideas percolate up.”
Action on the water plan is needed quickly both within the state to deal with drought, floods and wildfires the state has witnessed in the last two years, he added. Climate change and compact obligations of all basins within Colorado dictate that Colorado work with other Western states to protect water supply in the future, Hickenlooper said.
“We need to be ready in the future to build relationships in order to reach the compromises we may have to reach later,” he said.
For his part, Owens stressed the need to develop more storage in Colorado.
“A lot of problems revolve around the lack of storage,” Owens said. “Through new laws, there is an emphasis on conservation, but storage has to be a key component.”