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.