Legislative agenda: Energy efficiency, water conservation & protecting public lands — Conservation Colorado #coleg

Grand Lake via Cornell University
Grand Lake via Cornell University

Click here to read their release:

Conservation Colorado and conservation community partners released our 2015 legislative agenda with a focus on innovative measures to keep Colorado in the forefront of energy efficiency, water conservation, protecting our nation’s legacy of universal access to all of America’s public lands, and protections for local communities facing the ongoing impacts of heavy industrial drilling and fracking.

“Coloradans treasure our mountains, clean water and air, and easily accessible open spaces and they expect their elected representatives to reflect these strong conservation values,” said Pete Maysmith, Executive Director, Conservation Colorado.

In 2015, the conservation community will pursue legislation to increase energy efficiency programs to encourage construction and retrofit or renovation of highly efficient buildings. Complementing years of progress on expanding renewable energy, energy efficiency measures are a vital component to Colorado’s energy future.

“Colorado is already a strong leader in pursuing energy efficiency policies but there is more we can do to provide incentives to encourage energy efficiency in construction and renovation of existing buildings,” said Will Toor, Southwestern Energy Efficiency Project. “Not only does energy efficiency reduce carbon pollution but it enables businesses and homeowners to save money on their utility bills.”

Water remains the lifeblood of Colorado and our state has pursued a number of successful water conservation policies to keep more water in our rivers and streams while more efficiently using water in our homes and to grow our food. But work remains to be done in order to ensure we’re making the most of our limited water supplies.

Chief among these next steps includes making innovative tools available to Coloradans that will educate them on their water use and encourage them to use water more efficiently. “Household rain barrels are a gateway to water fluency, yet they are mostly illegal in Colorado,” said Drew Beckwith, Water Policy Manager, Western Resource Advocates. “Allowing our residents to use rain barrels will build a conservation ethic in the populace, foster a deeper connection to water in the state, and will not impact other water users.”

While the Colorado conservation community will work hard to move proactive legislation, we will strive equally as hard to defeat measures which roll back our gains in expanding wind and solar energy or any attempt to reduce Coloradans’ access to our favorite fishing, camping, hiking and hunting spots on our national public lands. We fully expect to see bills to allow the seizure of America’s public lands and hand control over to state government.

“Colorado hunters, anglers, and outdoors enthusiasts will strongly resist any attempt to sell off federal public lands in Colorado and give control of them to our already cash strapped and overburdened state government. It would be a bad deal for Coloradans because people will lose access to long treasured family camping sites, fishing spots, or favorite hiking trails,” said Suzanne O’Neill, Executive Director, Colorado Wildlife Federation. “Our outdoor heritage is a defining characteristic of Coloradans and we will vigorously work to defend our right to use and enjoy all of our public lands as we have for generations.”

Finally, the conservation community will closely follow the Governor’s oil and gas task force as it concludes its deliberations and forwards recommendations to the Governor and the Colorado legislature.

“It is critical the Governor’s oil and gas task force recommend meaningful reforms to address Coloradans ongoing concerns with the impacts of oil and gas development, “ said Pete Maysmith. “Fundamentally, we believe the State should provide the floor for oil and gas oversight and our local governments provide the ceiling to enforce adequate protections as each community sees fit. Anything less from the taskforce will fall far short of reducing conflicts and will force Coloradans to pursue other means to properly protect their homes, public health and property values.”

More 2015 Colorado legislation coverage here.

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CWCB: Next Water Availability Task Force Meeting – January 20


From email from the Colorado Water Conservation Board (Ben Wade):

The next Water Availability Task Force meeting will be held on Tuesday, January 20, 2015 from 1:00p-2:30p at the Colorado Parks & Wildlife Headquarters, 6060 Broadway, Denver in the Red Fox Room.

The agenda is posted at the CWCB website.

More CWCB coverage here.

FactCheck.org: Ignore the rhetoric, here are the facts about the Keystone Pipeline

Weekly Climate, Water and Drought Assessment of the Upper #ColoradoRiver Basin

Upper Colorado River Basin precipitation as a percent of normal December 2014
Upper Colorado River Basin precipitation as a percent of normal December 2014

Click here to read the current assessment. Click here to go to the NIDIS website host by the Colorado Climate Center.

Snowpack news: South Platte Basin = 117% of avg (best in state)

Click on a thumbnail graphic for a gallery of snowpack data from the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

2015 Colorado legislation: Review of #COWaterPlan planned during session #COleg


From the Englewood Herald (Tom Munds):

State Rep. Daniel Kagan, D-Cherry Hills Village, expects a busy session for the state legislature as members deal with issues such as continuing to increase education funding to making sure all state residents benefit from the recession recovery.

“We are a divided Legislature, with a Republican-controlled Senate and a Democrat-controlled House of Representatives,” he said by phone while on vacation. “But I believe we can get a lot accomplished because the two parties working together won’t be something new, as 90 percent of the bills passed by the 2014 Legislature passed with bipartisan support.”[…]

Kagan said the Legislature will review a recently created plan to ensure equitable water distribution to all state users. He said the plan is being devised so water will be available for development but not at the cost of sufficient water supplies for agricultural needs.

More 2015 Colorado legislation coverage here.

Grand County Water Information Network has new leader — the Sky-Hi Daily News #ColoradoRiver

Historical Colorado River between Granby and Hot Sulphur Springs
Historical Colorado River between Granby and Hot Sulphur Springs

From the Sky-Hi Daily News (Hank Shell):

The Grand County Water Information Network is under new leadership.

Ryan Lokteff joined the GCWIN staff in November and has since taken over as executive director from Jane Tollett.

GCWIN works with organizations including Denver Water, the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District, the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service to manage and coordinate water quality testing in Grand County.

“That’s what I like about GCWIN,” Lokteff said. “It’s not just Grand County but it’s a partnership between Grand County, Denver Water, Northern Water – all these agencies that have a share in the water. It’s a good form of cooperation to get all of those people to the same table.”[…]

He got his master’s degree in watershed science from Utah State University in 2013.

“I got to play with fish,” Lokteff said. “I was lucky.”

Lokteff said he plans to maintain GCWIN’s current data collection as well as explore additional data collection in Grand County.

“Since I’m new, we’ll keep doing what were doing,” he said. “We’ll keep doing the monitoring on the streams that we have, keep the database up to speed and keep checking the quality of the data to make sure that it’s as good as it possibly can be.”

Lokteff and his wife Maegan have a 3-year-old son, Curran. Maegan is the executive director of Grand Beginnings.

More Colorado River Basin coverage here.

Lake Nighthorse: “This water would really help our future” — Manuel Heart

Lake Nighthorse via the USBR
Lake Nighthorse via the USBR

From The Durango Herald (Mary Shinn):

The Durango City Council signed a resolution Tuesday supporting the delivery of water from Lake Nighthorse to the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe.

“This water would really help our future,” Chairman Manuel Heart said.

The resolution stemmed from a series of recent meetings between city officials and the tribe about the potential recreational use of Lake Nighthorse, City Manager Ron LeBlanc said.

The city likely will send the resolution to Colorado’s U.S. senators and House members to help support the tribe as it seeks funding for infrastructure to deliver water.

Lake Nighthorse was built to provide Native American tribes, including the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, the Navajo Nation and the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, with water they are entitled to receive, said Justyn Hoch, a spokeswoman for the Bureau of Reclamation.

The Ute Mountain Ute Tribe has water rights to about 31 percent of the water stored in the lake, but Congress has not funded infrastructure to bring it to the reservation, she said.

Congress has funded a pipeline to the Navajo Nation, which is nearing completion. It will deliver water to the Shiprock area. In addition, the Southern Utes could access water from Lake Nighthorse by releasing it back into the Animas and taking it out of a river diversion, she said.

However, the infrastructure for the Ute Mountain Utes was dropped from federal legislation in 2000, Heart said.

The tribal leadership already has met with U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R.-Cortez, and has plans to meet with U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, R.-Colorado, this year to talk about the need to fund a delivery system.

The additional water would allow for greater economic development on the reservation, Heart said. The reservation covers about 600,000 acres southwest of Cortez and has one of the largest farms in Montezuma County.

Ute Mountain Ute Councilor Regina Lopez-Whiteskunk also voiced her appreciation of the resolution because the reservation currently has limited water resources. While securing water delivery is a priority for the tribe, she expects it to be years before the tribe receives an appropriation.

More Animas-La Plata Project coverage here.