#COWaterPlan: “There are, however, few mandates” — The Pueblo Chieftain

Colorado Water Plan website screen shot November 1, 2013
Colorado Water Plan website screen shot November 1, 2013

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Once the state water plan is delivered to Gov. John Hickenlooper, no one from the Arkansas Basin Roundtable will be ready to say “mission accomplished.”

On [August 12], the roundtable contemplated its future in light of the expected wrap-up of the water plan in December.

Public comments, which already number in the thousands, are due by Sept. 17.

The state Legislature’s interim Water Resources Review Committee heard another round of comments from the Arkansas Valley [August 11] in Salida.

And staffers from the Colorado Water Conservation Board, which is preparing the plan, gave roundtable members a few tips on finding the highlights among the verbiage of the 500-page document.

The plan generally promotes multipurpose projects with multiple funding partners and broad agreement about mitigation. It favors continuation of realistic conservation strategies. It addresses statewide concerns about municipal supply, agricultural needs, recreation uses and environmental preservation.

Its critical action plan, Chapter 10, outlines in broad strokes how projects will be prioritized, funded and possibly streamlined in the future. During the process, hundreds of projects bobbed up during dozens of meetings.

There are, however, few mandates. Words like “seek, create and encourage” are used, rather than “shall, will or must.”

“Chapter 10 is the guts of the state water plan,” Jeris Danielson said, summing up a similar presentation to the Interbasin Compact Committee a few weeks ago.

The IBCC, formed at the same time as the roundtables 10 years ago, had some angst about its future mission, but realized it will be needed to follow through on plans now in the works, Danielson said.

Jay Winner, the roundtable’s other IBCC member, said the plan is unfinished business, noting that roundtables throughout the state continue to vacillate on a framework for future transbasin transfers.

“If we don’t have a transmountain diversion, we don’t have a plan,” Winner said.

Alan Hamel, who represents the basin on the CWCB, said the roundtables will continue to have a role in the future, implementing basin plans that also were created in the two-year process to create a state water plan.

Jim Broderick, roundtable chairman, told members, who come from all parts of the sprawling Arkansas River basin, that it will be up to them in the future to see that basin plans are moved forward.

“Is this the last opportunity for comment?” Broderick asked Jacob Bornstein, a CWCB staffer.

“This is the last round of comment on the plan itself,” Bornstein replied. “But it is a living document that can change.”

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