From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):
For many Arkansas Basin Roundtable members, it seemed they were speaking Greek when they started meeting in 2005. But next week, the group finally will wrap up its portion of the state water plan.
The roundtable will fine-tune the draft basin implementation plan Wednesday. A public comment meeting to review the plan will be from 10:30 a.m. to noon, followed by the roundtable meeting at 12:30 p.m.
“It’s really come a long way, and a lot of work has gone into it,” said Jim Broderick, roundtable chairman. “The review is set up so that in the future, it’s an active plan that can be used.”
A draft for review is posted on the roundtable’s website (arkansasbasin. com). The draft plan is the culmination of the roundtable’s past decade of work.
The plan starts out with a quote by Frank Milenski, an Otero County farmer and writer who fought for agricultural water rights during his long tenure on the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District and through the Catlin Canal: “When you first start out, understanding water is like trying to understand Greek. After a while it starts getting to where it kinda registers; then if you stick with it, it becomes fascinating. Water is the most valuable thing there is on Earth.”
To illustrate the point, the document is complex and weighty, especially for those who have not been along for the whole ride. Fascinating would not be the first adjective most would choose to describe it, but the value of water to future growth is apparent on nearly every page.
The full basin implementation plan is 773 pages long, including appendices. It has three major purposes:
To organize Arkansas River basin issues under the Colorado Water Conservation Board’s state water plan, being drafted under Gov. John Hickenlooper’s 2013 executive order. To highlight future challenges faced by basin water users. To describe the need and action plans for current and future water projects.
The Arkansas Basin Roundtable is one of nine in the state formed in 2005 to address the municipal water gap in Colorado, first identified in the Statewide Water Supply Initiative. The state’s goal was to fill a projected gap in water supplies with the least damage to agriculture, recreation and wildlife habitat.
The roundtable’s earliest meetings often were dominated by position statements from water interests throughout the basin, but soon shifted toward obtaining state water supply reserve account grants for projects up and down the Arkansas River. Presentations over the years also increased the group’s knowledge of short- and long-term water projects.
The group also has worked to insert the need for future agricultural water supply and for more storage into state planning.
For the past two years, the group has been focused on gaining consensus about the water plan. Last year, it hosted 17 public meetings to solicit input on its basin implementation plan.
More IBCC — basin roundtable coverage here.