From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):
Environmental groups see a new direction for Colorado water development based on comments on the state water plan in the past year.
“We heard loud and clear from the comments from people all over the state that conservation is needed,” said Bart Miller, water program director for Western Resource Advocates. “We’re hoping the plan will be even stronger on this point in the final form.”
Conservation groups are pushing a fourpronged program that embraces stretching current water supplies rather than developing new sources.
Keeping rivers healthy and flowing. Increasing urban efficiency and conservation. Modernizing agricultural and water sharing programs. Avoiding new large transmountain diversions.
For years Western Resource Advocates and allied groups have rejected calls for new supply and more storage, saying wiser use of resources is needed. A statewide poll taken in September shows support among Colorado voters for those goals, with 88 percent saying cities should reduce water use by 10 percent by 2020. That mirrors many comments in the state water plan that say reducing urban usage of water is a key way to stretch resources.
“It ties in with the governor’s executive order that talked about smart urban growth,” Miller said. “There are some opportunities to encourage better development in the future.” The need for the water plan grew out of the realization during the drought of 2002 that state water providers needed to accommodate a growing population without the traditional buy-anddry of agricultural land.
There were also comments about the state water plan that urge caution in relying too heavily on urban conservation as a strategy. Those pointed out how cities already are using up to 20 percent less water per capita than a decade ago, and warn against “hardening” demand so that restrictions would be necessary in the next drought. There also would be problems with a statewide edict on how growth and water development occur, since those decisions are now primarily made at the local level.
“The state has the ability to help with technical resources and funding,” Miller said. “One of the things people want to see is more transparency on the part of large providers.”
More Colorado Water Plan coverage here.