From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):
A state water plan may not prevent a crisis, but it would give the state a way to better deal with it.
“We like our chances better with a strategy,” said James Eklund, executive director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board. “We’ve got a path forward.”
Eklund addressed about 150 people who attended the opening day of the Arkansas River Basin Water Forum at Pueblo Community College.
The state will spend most of this year putting the finishing touches on a water plan to be presented to Gov. John Hickenlooper on Dec. 10. Eklund has spent the last 20 months talking to water groups throughout the state about what the plan does and how it will be used. Most recently, the state’s basin roundtables wrapped up basin implementation plans that feed into the final document.
Actually, it won’t be “final.”
Eklund called it “opensource policymaking,” meaning anyone with a smartphone or computer can logon (http://coloradowaterplan.com) and comment at any time.
California and Texas voters approved bond issues for $7.5 billion and $2 billion by 2-1 margins, largely because they had water plans in place, Eklund said.
“We’ve got to determine water priorities more aggressively than in the past,” he said. “The state will not pick winners or losers, but will be able to prioritize regional projects, like we do now for transportation.”
The plan also will connect state policies on water, ending current trends that put water quality in one “silo” (Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment) and quantity in another (Division of Water Resources).
“The Arkansas basin is a poster child for how you do this work,” Eklund said. “We need you to comment and help on the plan. We need to make sure our house is in order and that we’re unified as a state.”
The plan has to be flexible enough to meet the needs of a state that is expected to see its population double in 50 years. During his presentations, Eklund likes to show a picture of his own dour-faced great-greatgrandparents, whom he jokes would want no part of a water plan.
But times change.
“We’re living with the water policies our grandparents gave us, but we’re designing policies for our grandchildren,” Eklund said. “When people go home to be with their kids, they have to realize it’s not something you can take for granted. You have to plan for it.”
More Colorado Water Plan coverage here.