New Mexico’s Climate Future, By Way of Paris — New Mexico In Depth


From New Mexico In Depth (Laura Paskus):

“The agreement is a clear articulation of the fact that almost all countries of the world now agree that climate change is a serious problem—and more serious than they agreed to in the past,” says Jonathan Overpeck, co-director for the University of Arizona’s Institute of the Environment and professor in the university’s Geosciences and Atmospheric Sciences departments.

By recognizing the magnitude and importance of climate change, he says that delegates in Paris did achieve a “major milestone in human history.”

But, he adds: “the devil is in the implementation.”


Last week, delegates recognized that trying to restrict warming to two degrees will not protect many countries, especially island and coastal nations that are being inundated by sea level rises.

Instead, it now seems imperative to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-Industrial levels…

For New Mexicans, the conversation isn’t an abstract one.

“The impacts of climate change are really clear in the Southwest right now,” says Overpeck. “There is very noticeable warming, and it is greater than the global average warming.”

While the focus lately has been on California, Overpeck points out that the larger Southwest has been in drought for more than a decade.

“This drought has been moving around the Southwest since 1999,” he says. “And this drought is unique: it’s the worst drought we’ve seen in the rain gauge record, and it’s made worse because it’s a ‘hot drought.’” That is, the drought is driven as much by anomalously hot temperatures as by precipitation.

“The effects on forests and water supply are already happening,” he says, citing forest mortality and larger, more severe forest fires. “They were predicted to happen, and they’re already happening. They aren’t hypothetical.”

Warmer temperatures will also affect people’s health, thanks to things like longer heat waves in the summer and an increase in dust storms.

“One of the other health effects, that scientists worry about most, is an increase in infectious disease in our region, as more disease is able to spread out of the tropics into the US, into the Southwest,” he says. “Dengue and other mosquito-borne illnesses will probably be favored more and more in the Southwest as the climate warms.”

And while science is his specialty, Overpeck allows himself to step into the political realm.

Although the number of Americans denying or ignoring climate change has become increasingly small, they still have a great deal of influence on policy, which affects people across the globe, he says.

#COP21: Statement from The Nature Conservancy on the Paris Agreement


From The Nature Conservancy:

After two intense weeks of negotiations reflecting twenty years of climate discussions, representatives from nearly 200 countries reached accord on the Paris Agreement.

The Conservancy’s Andrew Deutz, director of international government relations said, “This landmark agreement signals the turning point in the road to a low-carbon economy, a road paved by continued innovation in the technology, energy, finance, and conservation sectors. Years in the making, the agreement affirms a new paradigm of global cooperation to address climate change which points towards a future that is more prosperous, healthy and secure.

“Over the last year, countries have produced the most ambitious and comprehensive set of emissions reductions ever on offer. These are an essential down payment on global action. The Paris Agreement now ensures a formal process to continually ratchet up those offers every five years until we solve the climate challenge. The agreement also includes essential provisions to enhance accountability, environmental integrity, and scaled-up financing to help poor countries.

Duncan Marsh, director of international climate policy said, “The Paris Agreement ensures a role for market mechanisms, which should accelerate the deployment of private capital for climate action. In fact, the Paris Agreement signals that the world is on an irreversible path to a low carbon economy, which should shape investment for decades to come.

The agreement also affirms the important role that ecosystems, biodiversity, and land use can play in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and helping communities and countries reduce risks and adapt to climate change impacts. It also promotes sustainable management of land, which can range from conserving and restoring forests to improving agriculture.”

“Beyond the agreement itself, we commend France’s President Hollande and the French hosts, who masterly mobilized their considerable diplomatic capacity around the world for the last year to make this moment happen,” noted Deutz. “The agreement reached today, when combined with the unprecedented collection of announcements of new investments and far-reaching actions by the private sector and sub-national governments, signals that the world is on a historic new path towards protecting the planet for future generations. Tomorrow we will roll up our sleeves again and continue to dedicate ourselves to accelerating the transition to a low carbon future.”

#COP21: Water Gained Stature at Paris Climate Talks — Circle of Blue

From left, President François Hollande of France; Laurent Fabius, the French foreign minister; and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon during the climate change conference on Saturday in Le Bourget, near Paris. (Credit Francois Mori/Associated Press)
From left, President François Hollande of France; Laurent Fabius, the French foreign minister; and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon during the climate change conference on Saturday in Le Bourget, near Paris. (Credit Francois Mori/Associated Press)

From Circle of Blue (Brett Walton):

The Paris conference brought cheers not only from renewable energy advocates but from water groups. For years, organizations that focus on the world’s freshwater resources felt marginalized in the climate change debate. A warmer planet means nastier droughts, bigger floods, and unsettling perturbations in the water cycle, but the question of adaptation was mostly ignored by diplomats.

In Paris, that changed. Though the final text does not mention it by name, water was at the core of numerous debates and side agreements. Water advocates succeeded not by narrowing their agenda but by broadening it.

They did this in two ways. First, by targeting climate adaptation at the national level. Seventy-five percent of the national climate plans, or INDCs, which 186 countries submitted ahead of the conference, mentioned water adaptation. The detail in these plans varies tremendously, according to Melisa Cran of the French Water Partnership, but they do represent a starting point.

Second, water groups brought more parties to the table. Cities, non-governmental organizations, research institutes, utilities, and businesses pledged to address water as part of the “Agenda for Solutions,” a platform for promoting climate action outside of international politics.

The approach was a success. Water was discussed with greater depth and detail than at any previous UN climate conference.

“We were very happy that the topic of water became relatively serious in Paris,” Leon Awerbuch of the International Desalination Association, which helped advance an agreement to cut carbon emissions from desalination, told Circle of Blue.

The conference produced a number of notable agreements. More than 300 organizations signed the Paris Pact, to improve water management practices at the watershed level. Roughly $US 1 billion in funding for infrastructure projects has already been secured, according to Tales Resende Carvalho of the UNESCO-International Hydrological Program. Funds for adaptation could also flow to water projects from the Green Climate Fund, to which rich countries pledged at least $US 100 billion per year by 2020.

Twenty-seven large businesses agreed to measure and report water use, under an initiative called the Business Alliance for Water and Climate Change. The MegaCities Coalition, which represents 20 cities with 85 million people, will share data and best practices. The Global Clean Water Desalination Alliance aims to reduce carbon emissions from desalination, first by increasing the efficiency of membranes and power generation and eventually by a wholesale transition to renewable energy, Awerbuch explained. Without action, carbon emissions from desalination will increase nearly five-fold by 2040 because of the growth of thirsty seaside cities.

Altogether, the pledges made at Paris represent a significant step forward for water. Resende Carvalho said the importance is evident in the breadth of the negotiations.

“It goes without saying that given its cross-cutting nature and its important potential mitigation and adaptation aspect, water has found an important place among the measures provided under the INDCs and the ‘Agenda for Solutions’, Resende Carvalho told Circle of Blue.

Ag Water Summit: “Water is one of the places where I think we can win” — Governor Hickenlooper #COWaterPlan

From the Loveland Reporter-Herald (Craig Young):

Hickenlooper speaks at Ag Water Summit in Loveland

Gov. John Hickenlooper took his speaking engagement Tuesday at the Ag Water Summit in Loveland as an opportunity to celebrate the recently completed Colorado’s Water Plan and to urge its full implementation…

“We have for a long time known we have sustainability issues around water,” Hickenlooper said to the farmers, ranchers and ag businesspeople and officials at The Ranch in Loveland. “This was a can that had been kicked down the road for a long time.”

A statewide consensus developed that it was time to do something, he said, “to guarantee that there would be peaches from Palisade, cantaloupes from Rocky Ford into the next century.”


“Buy-and-dry is not sustainable; it’s not acceptable,” Hickenlooper said. “It’s a bad deal for Colorado, and it’s a bad deal for agriculture.”

The plan suggests “alternative transfer methods” of water, such as allowing farmers and rancher to lease water to other users but retain ownership…

Table from section 6.4 of the

Although the water plan emphasizes conservation, it also acknowledges that Colorado will have to build and expand its storage facilities.

Hickenlooper said the infrastructure projects that typically make headlines these days are roads and high-speed Internet, “but water and storage projects are probably just as critical if not more critical to the overall long-term viability of the state.”

“The water plan knows that we’re going to have to make some fairly large investments. The state is going to have to step up,” he said.

The water plan calls for $100 million annual funding over 30 years, starting in 2020, he said, to pay for 400,000 acre-feet of new storage capacity. Not all of that funding will come from the state, he added…

“Water is one of the places where I think we can win,” he said. “We can actually deliver on what we’ve planned … and put it in place to make sure we do have enough water for the generations ahead.”

The governor’s speech came during the morning session of the daylong Ag Water Summit sponsored by the Colorado Ag Water Alliance.

The agenda included topics such as the future of food production in Colorado, water court issues and lessons learned from the California drought.

From the Fort Collins Coloradan (Jacy Marmaduke):

Colorado will be hard-pressed to fund the goals laid out in its historic water plan without involvement from the state legislature, Gov. John Hickenlooper said in a Tuesday morning speech at the 2015 Colorado Ag Water Summit in Loveland.

Officials estimate implementation of the recently released Colorado Water Plan will require $100 million in annual funding between 2020 and 2050. That money will have to come from a variety of sources, including loans, federal and state grants and public-private partnerships, Hickenlooper said, because Colorado’s Department of Natural Resources receives little money to pay for water projects.

The governor made a “brief plug” for reclassification of the state’s hospital provider fee, charged to hospitals and used to provide matching funds for federal Medicaid money and increase provider payments for indigent care. The fee currently counts against state revenue limits imposed by the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, or TABOR. If the legislature passed a law reclassifying it as an enterprise fund, the move could free up hundreds of millions of dollars to spend on things like water infrastructure.

“If the legislature won’t agree to recategorize (the hospital provider fee), to be honest, we’re going to have to try to figure out some way to go to the public and ask for more resources for this kind of infrastructure,” Hickenlooper said. “But based on every poll, that’s going to be a very difficult hill to climb.”

Speaking at an annual gathering of agricultural water users from across the state, Hickenlooper emphasized the importance of agriculture as a driving force for Colorado’s economy and a means to feed the state’s growing population.

He applauded the cumulative efforts that led to Colorado’s first statewide attempt to confront a projected water supply shortage of 560,000 acre feet — enough to fill Horsetooth Reservoir three and a half times — by 2050. Stakeholders took a “bottom-up” approach to crafting the plan, which initially consisted of individual river basin plans that were later joined and prioritized for the final draft…

The plan’s goals include:

  • Reducing the projected 2050 municipal and industrial water gap to zero acre feet by 2030.
  • Achieving 400,000 acre feet of municipal and industrial water conservation by 2050.
  • Ensuring that, by 2025, three-fourths of Coloradans live in communities that have incorporated water-saving actions into land-use planning.
  • Attaining 400,000 acre feet of additional water storage by 2050.
  • Covering 80 percent of locally prioritized rivers with stream management plans and 80 percent of critical watersheds with watershed protection plans by 2030.
  • Investigating ways to raise $100 million annually for plan objectives starting in 2020.
    Significantly improve public awareness of water issues statewide by 2020, determined by water awareness surveys.
  • Hickenlooper said his priorities for the upcoming legislative session will include water storage projects and alternative transfer methods – ways to meet growing municipal water demand without resorting to buy and dry, which is what happens when a municipality buys land from a farmer for the water rights and lets the land go dry.

    The state needs to identify a variety of alternative transfer methods that conform to water law and provide security for water users, Hickenlooper said.

    The legislature may not pass any laws directly related to storage projects or alternative transfer methods this session, but “now is the time to start looking at it,” the governor said.

    “Buy and dry is not sustainable,” he said. “It’s not acceptable. It’s a bad deal for Colorado, and it’s a bad deal for agriculture. People in the urban and suburban parts of the state need to understand that.”

    Interior Department Announces Initiative to Spur Innovation & Investments that Support Water, Conservation Solutions

    Here’s the release from the US Department of the Interior (Jessica Kershaw):

    At White House Roundtable on Water Innovation, Interior launches Natural Resource Investment Center to support water, species, and habitat conservation

    U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today announced that the Department will establish a Natural Resource Investment Center to spur partnerships with the private sector to develop creative financing opportunities that support economic development goals while advancing the Department’s resource stewardship mission.

    At a White House Roundtable on Water Innovation, Jewell outlined that the Center will use market-based tools and innovative public-private collaborations to increase investment in water conservation and critical water infrastructure, as well as promote investments that conserve important habitat in a manner that advances efficient permitting and meaningful landscape-level conservation.

    “Given increased development pressures, climate impacts and constrained budgets, Interior is pursuing innovative approaches with private sector organizations to help accomplish our balanced land management and conservation mission,” Secretary Jewell said. “As a former CEO, I am confident the private sector can play a meaningful role in working with us to advance the goals of smart development alongside thoughtful conservation. The Natural Resource Investment Center will facilitate this effort by building on current activity to incent private investments in the infrastructure and conservation of water, species, habitat, and other natural resources.”

    The Center will work closely with the private sector and others to identify innovative ideas and financing options for projects that conserve scarce Western water resources and protect species habitat.

    The Center will focus on three objectives:

  • Increase investment in water conservation and build up water supply resilience by facilitating water exchanges or transfers in the Western U.S;
  • Increase investment in critical water infrastructure – both major rehabilitation and replacement of existing infrastructure and new infrastructure needs – by developing new financing approaches and helping to execute project ideas; and
  • Foster private investment and support well-structured markets that advance efficient permitting and effective landscape-level conservation for species, habitat and other natural resources.
  • The Center is part of President Obama’s Build America Investment Initiative, which calls on federal agencies to find new ways to increase investment in ports, roads, water and sewer systems, bridges, broadband networks, and other 21st-century infrastructure projects; and Pay for Success, an initiative that seeks to employ innovative new strategies to help ensure that the essential services of government produce their intended outcomes. The infrastructure improvements are facilitated by building partnerships among federal, state, local and tribal governments and private-sector investors. The U.S. Departments of Transportation and Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency also have centers initiated in response to these Initiatives.

    Interior’s Natural Resource Investment Center will harness the expertise of the Department’s bureaus, including the Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs and U.S Geological Survey, and will tap external private sector experience to deliver on its objectives.

    The Center will model its water efficiency and transfer efforts in part on the successful initiatives of the Central Valley Project (CVP) in California. The CVP improves operational flexibility and water supply reliability through expanded use of voluntary water transfers.

    Individuals or water districts receiving CVP water can transfer all or a portion of their water to other California water users or a water agency, state or federal agency, tribes, or private non-profit organizations. Through this program, between 300,000 and 400,000 acre-feet of water is transferred in a typical year, allowing high-value agriculture and cities to maintain deliveries through scarcity.

    To promote increased investment in critical water infrastructure, the Center will also work to develop new financing approaches and engage with non-federal partners to make investments that build water supply resilience. These could include storage, pipelines, canals, and investments in efficiency that help to stretch and better manage scarce water supplies and sustain river ecosystems. One recent example of this approach is the Warren H. Brock Reservoir in California.

    To respond more effectively to the changing conditions on the river, Reclamation and stakeholders in Nevada, Arizona, and California collaboratively constructed this storage facility to conserve water and maximize the use of available water supplies. The Bureau of Reclamation conducted environmental compliance, oversaw construction, and integrated the project into its operations in the Lower Colorado River system, and the project was completed in roughly two years.

    The Center will also identify opportunities for private sector investments in important habitat conservation needs on public and private lands. One creative example is demonstrated in a partnership between Interior, Barrick Gold of North America and The Nature Conservancy to enhance habitat in Nevada for the greater sage grouse. The agreement allowed Barrick to accumulate credits for successful habitat improvement projects on its private ranchlands. In return, the company receives assurance from Interior that the credits can be used to offset impact to habitat from planned future mine expansion on public lands.

    The Department of the Interior manages approximately 20 percent of the land in the United States, and is the largest wholesale water provider in the country. The Department is establishing the Center under its existing authorities.

    Greater sage grouse via Idaho Fish and Game
    Greater sage grouse via Idaho Fish and Game

    USBR: WaterSMART Grant Funding Available for Water Conservation and Energy Efficiency Projects

    Orchard Mesa circa 1911
    Orchard Mesa circa 1911

    From the US Bureau of Reclamation (Peter Soeth):

    Last month, the Bureau of Reclamation invited states, tribes, irrigation districts, water districts and other organizations with water or power delivery authority to participate in its latest WaterSMART grant opportunity. A total of $21 million in cost-shared funding is available for water conservation and energy efficiency projects that help move the West towards resilience in the face of drought and ongoing imbalances between water supply and demand.

    The grant opportunity, which closes on January 20, 2016, is being highlighted as part of a series of initiatives related to water resilience the Obama Administration will feature in this week’s scheduled White House Roundtable on Water Innovation. The Roundtable will feature Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell along with other senior Administration officials and several private sector investors, in discussions on ways to plan, efficiently use and develop new clean water supplies to ensure our nation’s resilience to water supply and demand imbalances.

    WaterSMART aims to improve water conservation and sustainability, helping water resource managers make sound decisions about water use. The program identifies strategies to ensure this generation and future ones will have sufficient amounts of clean water for drinking, economic activities, recreation and ecosystem health. The program also identifies adaptive measures to address climate change and its impact on future water demands.

    Reclamation awarded more than $23 million for 50 Water and Energy Efficiency Grants in 2015. Since 2009, Reclamation has provided more than $174 million in funding through WaterSMART Grants to states, Tribes and other partners. That funding is being leveraged with more than $426 million in non-federal funding to complete more than $600 million in improvements, which are expected to result in annual water savings of more than 570,000 acre-feet once completed, enough water for more than 2.2 million people.

    Applications may be submitted under one of two funding groups:

  • Funding Group I: Up to $300,000 will be available for smaller projects that may take up to two years to complete.
  • Funding Group II: Up to $1 million will be available for larger, phased projects that will take up to three years to complete.
  • Proposals must seek to conserve and use water more efficiently, increase the use of renewable energy, improve energy efficiency, benefit endangered and threatened species, facilitate water markets, carry out activities to address climate-related impacts on water, or prevent any water-related crisis or conflict. To view examples of previous successful applications, including projects with a wide-range of eligible activities, please visit

    The funding opportunity announcement is available at using funding opportunity number R16-FOA-DO-004. Proposals must be submitted as indicated on by 4 p.m., MST, Jan. 20, 2016. It is anticipated that awards will be made in spring 2016. To learn more about WaterSMART please visit

    Crested Butte Outdoor Irrigation Improvements through Community Collaboration are a Model for the Region — Jorge Figueroa

    From the Western Resource Advocates blog (Jorge Figueroa):

    A recent voluntary effort in the Town of Crested Butte to improve water use is a great example of a community taking steps to protect its creeks and rivers.

    While there can be controversial issues related to water management, water efficiency is one of the solutions where many community members can find common ground. A recent voluntary effort in the Town of Crested Butte to improve water use is a great example of a community taking steps to protect its creeks and rivers.

    In October, the Town of Crested Butte, High Country Conservation Advocates (HCCA), and Western Resource Advocates (WRA) collaborated to replace an open ditch from 6th to 7th Street in town (called the McCormick Ditch) with a pipe. The ditch takes water from Coal Creek to be used for various community irrigation uses, including irrigating the local Gothic Ball Field. Piping the unlined open air ditch reduces water loss to seepage, evaporation, and water-sucking weeds. This in turn reduces the amount of water being diverted out of the creek, leaving more water in the creek for fish and wildlife. In addition, piping the ditch makes maintenance easier and cheaper for the town, lowers the occurrence of blockages caused by flooding, and makes it safer for children playing in the vicinity.

    This 6th to 7th Street piping project is part of a larger effort by the Town of Crested Butte to improve water efficiency along the entire McCormick Ditch and in town irrigation systems.

    In August the Crested Butte Parks and Recreation Department also partnered with WRA and the Center for Resource Conservation to complete a comprehensive audit of the Town’s outdoor irrigation systems to maximize irrigation efficiency once water reaches irrigated parks. The assessment found irrigation systems to be in overall good condition and identified minor retrofit improvements.

    HCCA and WRA staff helped secure grant funding from the Upper Gunnison River Water Conservancy District for the 6th to 7th Street McCormick Ditch piping project. WRA also provided funding for the water audit of the Town park system, and for the irrigation retrofit improvements recommended in the audit. The willingness of the Town of Crested Butte to champion water efficiency and work with local organizations is a model for other communities – showing how efficiency investments meet community needs while also helping keep more water in creeks and rivers to support fish, wildlife and recreation. It’s not just the technical efficiency that is important to highlight, but how conservationists, local government, water conservancy districts, and other community stakeholders can voluntarily collaborate on projects benefiting everyone.

    HCCA and WRA commend the Town of Crested Butte on these voluntary efforts to improve water use and look forward to future partnerships throughout the region.

    Crested Butte
    Crested Butte

    Arkansas River Farms wants to permanently remove 6,700 acres — The Pueblo Chieftain

    Fort Lyon Canal
    Fort Lyon Canal

    From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

    Fort Lyon Canal shareholders learned Monday that about 6,700 acres will be permanently dried up to support wells on farm ground not on the ditch.

    Arkansas River Farms, which purchased 18,400 Fort Lyon shares — about one-fifth of the total — earlier this year also plans to convert 5,700 acres on the Fort Lyon Canal to sprinklers, flood irrigate the remaining acres and leave some of its water behind to maintain flows on shared laterals.

    Karl Nyquist, Bill Grasmick and other Arkansas River Farms officials gave a brief summary of the plans at the annual Fort Lyon shareholders meeting. While ending speculation about what their plans are, they left many questions unanswered, particularly the sufficiency of efforts to protect other shareholders on the canal.

    But shareholders will have the opportunity to review a written report and ask all the questions they want at a Jan. 28-29 hearing in Las Animas, said board member Dale Mauch.

    It will be similar to the hearing in 2003 for High Plains A&M, which originally purchased and consolidated the 84 farms on more than 14,000 acres now owned by Arkansas River Farms. The hearing will be to answer Fort Lyon questions in advance of a water court filing that would change the use of the water.

    High Plains sold it to Pure Cycle Corp., which sold it to Arkansas River Farms for $53 million in August. All three have had plans in the past to move water to the Front Range.

    Engineer Duane Helton, who worked for Fort Lyon on the High Plains case, explained the details of the new plan to shareholders Monday.

    Curtis Tempel of the Bent County Conservation District said the restoration of land to avoid weed, blowing dirt and other problems is critical. Teaming up with the Prowers County Conservation District, he plans to meet with commissioners in both counties to explore what type of revegetation program is needed.

    “What we’d like to do is work through the canal company at the hearing in January to make sure revegetation is done the right way,” Nyquist said.

    Straight line diagram of the Lower Arkansas Valley ditches via Headwaters
    Straight line diagram of the Lower Arkansas Valley ditches via Headwaters

    D.C. lawmakers meet inside Colorado mine — The Durango Herald

    From The Durango Herald (Peter Marcus):

    The first-ever congressional hearing inside a mine was held Monday, offering a dramatic image of the impact the Gold King Mine spill has had on policy talks.

    The Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources held its field hearing inside the Edgar Mine in Idaho Springs, where the panel discussed legislation aimed at training and recruiting engineers to work on mining reclamation efforts…

    This image was taken during the peak outflow from the Gold King Mine spill at 10:57 a.m. Aug. 5. The waste-rock dump can be seen eroding on the right. Federal investigators placed blame for the blowout squarely on engineering errors made by the Environmental Protection Agency’s-contracted company in a 132-page report released Thursday [October 22, 2015]
    This image was taken during the peak outflow from the Gold King Mine spill at 10:57 a.m. Aug. 5. The waste-rock dump can be seen eroding on the right. Federal investigators placed blame for the blowout squarely on engineering errors made by the Environmental Protection Agency’s-contracted company in a 132-page report released Thursday [October 22, 2015]
    Some of the focus [after the Gold King Mine spill] has been placed on whether federal agencies have enough engineers and other mining experts on staff to consult on reclamation projects. Out of that discussion came the legislation that would direct funding to mining schools to train a talent pool.

    “The generation coming up wants to make a difference. Right now, the mining industry is not perceived as a way to do that,” said Leigh Freeman, a mining consultant who testified Monday inside the mine in support of the legislation.

    With at least 23,000 inactive mines identified in Colorado alone, the restoration issue has left Congress searching for answers.

    Several good Samaritan proposals remain on the table – including one from U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez – in which private entities would be empowered to restore inactive mines by limiting their risk of liability.

    Other more contentious legislative proposals include assessing fees and royalties on mining activities to establish a fund for restoration. The GOP is opposed to this approach.

    Doug Lamborn, R-Colorado Springs, said the discussion needs to be narrow in scope, which is what his hope is with a separate good Samaritan bill he introduced as part of a larger package of mining reforms.

    “If you try to tackle everything globally, there’s just too many moving parts, and the legislation does not end up going anywhere,” he said.

    The Edgar mine, the Colorado School of Mines Experimental Mine, is a contemporary to that era. In the 1870s, it produced high-grade silver, gold, lead and copper. Today, as an underground laboratory for future engineers, it produces valuable experience for those who are being trained to find, develop, and process the world's natural resources. Photo via [Colorado School of Mines]
    The Edgar mine, the Colorado School of Mines Experimental Mine, is a contemporary to that era. In the 1870s, it produced high-grade silver, gold, lead and copper. Today, as an underground laboratory for future engineers, it produces valuable experience for those who are being trained to find, develop, and process the world’s natural resources. Photo via [Colorado School of Mines]

    #COWaterPlan: “Much of our way of life is tied to the rivers, creeks and streams” — Kerry Donovan

    Here’s an opinion piece from Kerry Donovan via The Aspen Times:

    Recent weeks marked a moment in Colorado’s water history by charting a path to the future with a comprehensive water plan being released to the public. The Colorado Water Plan was delivered to Gov. John Hickenlooper and, with it, the thoughts and goals of months of work by the basin roundtables. Senate District 5 is home to the Colorado, Gunnison and Arkansas rivers. All three rivers are part of our identity in the high country, our lifestyle out west and making sure that we’re building an economy that gives everyone a fair shot at getting ahead. From rafting Brown’s Canyon to fishing the upper reaches of the Gunnison to turning on head gates on the Colorado, we know our rivers.

    We also know that in order to maintain healthy and free-flowing rivers, we must keep the water in the basin it was born in. The Western Slope even bears the burden of delivering water across the border to the downstream states. The Upper Arkansas is burdened with downstream demands. We cannot also be expected to support population growth in arid areas with additional diversion that sends our water to the Front Range. We value agriculture, outdoor recreation and healthy streams that support a diverse ecology, but these values are challenged when anything but a whole-state approach is used to make water-policy decisions.

    Unfortunately, too many of my colleagues in the state Legislature only think of the metro area when drafting bills dealing with the state’s water. When I was first running for the office of state senator, I promised to be a strong voice for the Gunnison, the Colorado and the Upper Arkansas. We have much that needs protecting…

    Conservation has taken a front seat in the Colorado Water Plan, as has avoiding any new, large transmountain diversions. By emphasizing restoration of our rivers and implementing a serious plan to conserve our water, future generations have a chance at enjoying the rivers and streams that we do, and the Front Range will use less even while population booms in our metro areas.

    To honor the work done to create the Colorado Water Plan, we in the state Legislature should honor the work of Colorado residents by not taking parts of the plan out of context to justify a pet project in a metro area. Through state water projects and increasing storage capacity of our water, and ensuring that conservation doesn’t negatively impact access to water for our farmers and ranchers, I will be a fierce advocate for making sure that our Western priorities are represented in any legislation related to the plan.

    Much of our way of life is tied to the rivers, creeks and streams that cascade down our mountains or meander through our valleys. It’s time for Colorado to have a water plan that reflects our values and makes sure that we delicately balance conservation with protecting our water rights and fighting for our water to stay where it belongs — with us.

    Kerry Donovan from her State Senate website
    Kerry Donovan from her State Senate website