Arkansas Basin roundtable meeting recap #COWaterPlan

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Now that a plan for Colorado’s water future is nearly finished, there are some concerns it might not have much of a future itself.

“What’s going to happen to the Colorado Water Plan?” asked Jim Broderick, executive director of the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District, at Wednesday’s Arkansas Basin Roundtable meeting. “Is it going to sit on a shelf?”

Alan Hamel, who represents the basin on the Colorado Water Conservation Board, was quick to reply that the final plan has more moving parts than its encyclopedic draft.

“There are dates so we have guidance and ways we can measure progress,” Hamel said. “If it sits on the shelf, we’ve wasted a lot of people’s time.”

The water plan will be finalized by the CWCB and presented to Gov. John Hickenlooper next week in Denver. The governor ordered the plan in 2013, and it has consumed the state’s roundtables for the past two years.

The primary purpose of the water plan, initially was to fill the supply gap for the state’s growing population, but it evolved to include conservation, land use and storage goals as well. It also includes agriculture, watershed health and funding goals.

In the process, the roundtables also developed basin implementation plans of their own.

It was clear at Wednesday’s meeting that the roundtable is not content to sit on its plan. Gary Barber, a former chairman of the roundtable, was hired to implement the plan.

State grant funding for the position is for just one year, and Barber’s job will be to keep projects moving ahead, said Sandy White, chairman.

Meanwhile, the roundtable has hired Deb Phenicie to coordinate its watershed health initiative and is in the process of selecting a coordinator for outreach and water education, also funded through the roundtable process.

Hamel tied the roundtable’s actions to the course the CWCB will take in implementing the water plan.

“It’s imperative for the CWCB to have regular reviews,” Hamel said, noting there was some disagreement about how often the state water plan would be reviewed. “Our goal in the Arkansas basin is to keep the project list current. The CWCB has to take a leadership role as we go from governor to governor.”

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

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