Tying water to growth, sort of — The Pueblo Chieftain #COWaterPlan

Colorado Water Plan website screen shot November 1, 2013
Colorado Water Plan website screen shot November 1, 2013

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

A proposal to link local land use to state water planning through better education about water issues will be discussed at this week’s meeting of the Arkansas Basin Roundtable. The question often has been the elephant in the room during discussions in the past decade by roundtables and the state Interbasin Compact Committee. The groups were formed in 2005 to address an impending gap in municipal water supplies.

While strategies such as storage, water projects, conservation and sharing water supplies have been discussed, the interconnection of growth and water supply was seldom brought up. Until the September roundtable meeting, when several members openly wrestled with the question of “carrying capacity” for cities — similar to federal guidelines for the number of cattle allowed under grazing permits.

A draft paper prepared since then by consultants, sent in advance to members of the roundtable, outlines the relationship local control, land-use planning and water supply planning. It explores legal decisions that give cities the right to hold future supplies, but limit the time span and conditions water can be tied up. It also looks at measures ranging from proof of water ownership before allowing a development to enforcing conservation measures in new development. The paper could be incorporated into a basin implementation plan presented to the Colorado Water Conservation Board as part of the state water plan.

“Existing Colorado law empowers land-use authorities to weigh the adequacy of an applicant’s water supply when making land-use decisions. However, the effectiveness of such a statute requires a well-informed decision making body, with some depth of knowledge regarding the subtleties of an adequate water supply,” the paper states.

Recommendations are to incorporate water planning with land use at the local level at the earliest possible time, keeping in mind that one size does not fit all users.

Proposed state legislation takes the same tack by recommending promoting water conservation in land-use planning under a coordinated approach among state agencies.

More Colorado Water Plan coverage here.

The Western Slope, however, can’t afford to be blinded by parochial interests — John Harold #ColoradoRiver #COWaterPlan

From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Gary Harmon):

Western Slope agriculture should have the same heft in water discussions as diverters to the east and populous states to the south, the head of a Grand Valley water agency said Friday.

“Western Slope agriculture and Western Slope water cannot be considered as a simple, easy-to-go-to solution to the water-supply concerns of others,” Mark Harris, general manager of the Grand Valley Water Users’ Association, told about 300 people at the Colorado River District’s annual water seminar at Two Rivers Convention Center.

The Western Slope, however, can’t afford to be blinded by parochial interests, John Harold of Tuxedo Farms in Olathe said.

“If we ever have a vote, there are 40 million people who would just run us over in a flash,” Harold said.

Harris and Harold were among several speakers who were asked how to deal with the water quandaries that now confront water users.

Those problems range from increased demands for water from the Front Range to insistence from the southwest that Colorado is running dangerously close to falling short of meeting its requirements under the 1922 compact that governs the use of the Colorado River.

Participants were asked whether Gov. John Hickenlooper’s comment that “Every conversation about water should begin with conservation” might understate the value of efficient use of water.

The terms are virtually interchangeable in common usage, said Dr. Perry Cabot, a research scientist and extension specialist at Colorado State University.

On a more technical level, however, conservation “is about doing less with less,” Cabot said, while efficiency improvements are aimed at “doing the same with less” water.

An experiment comparing yields of traditional furrow irrigation against sprinkler irrigation and drip irrigation on onions showed that drip irrigation was twice as efficient as furrow irrigation.

Sprinkler irrigation was in between.

Efficiency is likely to become more significant in coming years as demand for food grows, Cabot said.

“There hasn’t been enough emphasis on efficiency,” said Aaron Citron, project manager and attorney for the Environmental Defense Fund’s Colorado River Project in Boulder.

“In the next 50 years, we’re going to have to produce as much food as we ever have in history,” Cabot said.

And that will be against the backdrop of increased competition from improved agricultural practices worldwide, Harris said.

More Colorado River Basin coverage here.

Last Spring’s Fawn — Greg Hobbs

Greg Hobbs sent this along in email the other day. He’s been hanging out closer to the headwaters.

Last spring’s fawn


still tags with Mom


Last spring’s buds


a golden scamper


Last night’s rain


a roiling boil


blue blue mountains


sailing wisps.


Greg Hobbs 9/29/2014