From ColoradoCorn.com (Charlie Bartlett):
Colorado Corn board member and Colorado Agricultural Water Alliance (CAWA) president Charlie Bartlett recently voiced concerns about the Colorado Water Plan draft, stressing to officials that it focuses too much on alternative water transfer methods as the way to protect agriculture, and not enough on other avenues, like new water-storage projects.
“We disagree with the premise that ATMs will sustain a viable agriculture,” Bartlett, a Merino-area farmer, wrote in a letter to the Colorado Water Conservation Board. “CAWA believes that the Colorado Water Plan needs a much more significant analysis and treatment of how we can sustain our vibrant and critical industry though keeping water in agriculture.”
Colorado cities have long bought water rights from farmers and ranchers to help meet the needs of their growing populations, and, because of that and other factors, Colorado is on pace to see 500,000 to 700,000 acres of irrigated farm ground dry up by 2050, according to the Statewide Water Supply Initiative report.
To help with the problem, many in Colorado are exploring alternative transfer methods (ATMs), agreements that more easily allow the ag community and cities to use the same water supplies without the farmers and ranchers selling off their water rights altogether. The Colorado Water Plan draft includes language about further exploring ATMs to protect the state’s agriculture – an industry, that, in addition to supplying food, feed, fuel and fiber, has a $40 billion economic impact on Colorado.
However, all measures, including more water-storage projects, must also be part of the conversation in developing a Colorado Water Plan that will help ensure there’s enough to go around for agricultural, municipal and industrial needs down the road, Bartlett stressed in a letter to the Colorado Water Conservation Board.
“Certainly, ATMs are a part of that approach, but only one aspect,” Bartlett continued.
About the Colorado Water Plan
Gov. John Hickenlooper has put in charge the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) of developing a comprehensive, statewide water plan, in conjunction with other state water agencies. Roundtables of water experts from each of the eight major river basins in Colorado have already submitted drafted plans to the CWCB. The CWCB is now combining those eight draft plans, along with other input, into one that covers all of Colorado, which is due to the governor’s office in December. The final version Colorado Water Plan is to be completed by the end of 2015.
Draft chapters of the Colorado Water Plan and each of the eight basin’s draft plans are available online at http://www.coloradowaterplan.com/.
Those wanting to provide comments can do so at the same website.
Thanks to the La Junta Tribune-Democrat for the heads up.
More Colorado Water Plan coverage here.