From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):
The Arkansas Basin Roundtable is compiling a reservoir of ideas that could go into making the Colorado Water Plan. The main difficulty will be putting them all to beneficial use: First in the Arkansas River basin’s implementation plan, then translating those into the state plan — all under conditions that still appear to be changing.
“It does appear to be a flood,” quipped Alan Hamel, who represents the basin on the Colorado Water Conservation Board.
Last month, Gov. John Hickenlooper signed legislation (SB115) that instructs the CWCB to have hearings in each basin and for the draft plan to be presented to the Legislature’s interim committee on water resources.
Meanwhile, the roundtable has received 60 written comments, some with multiple suggestions, on what needs to be in its basin implementation plan. The group has no organized way of incorporating comments into the volumes of information already compiled. There has been little time for point-by-point discussions.
The CWCB will review basin plans in July.
And the state plan being developed is in a different format than the basin plan.
“How do we integrate all this?” asked Reed Dils, a retired Buena Vista outfitter and former CWCB member.
“The timeline was a tough, tight timeline even before the legislation,” Hamel added.
Hickenlooper ordered the CWCB to produce a draft plan by December. For the past few months, the roundtable has expanded its meeting time and talked extensively about its own basin plan, the product of nine years of meetings. Some of that time has been devoted to providing new members background on past actions of the roundtable.
“Dozens of people have presented information to us,” said Bud Elliott of Leadville, one of the original roundtable members. “The public has been well represented.”
Gary Barber, who chaired the roundtable for several years and is now under contract to help write the basin plan, said some findings of the roundtable have stalled.
“I tell you, five years later, we’re still beating our heads over rotational fallowing, based on the experience of Fowler,” he said at one point.
A deal by Super Ditch to supply water to Fowler under a state pilot program this year fell through when farmers pulled out. It’s the third year the group has tried, but failed, to demonstrate a new method for agricultural transfers that leaves ownership in the hands of farmers.
More Colorado Water Plan coverage here.