Annual Symposium 2017: At The Confluence: The Past, Present, and Future of Water Law — Sturm College of Law

Minute 319 signing. Ken Salazar (L) and Roberto Salmon (R).

Here’s a recap of Ken Salzar’s presentation from Trevor C. Lambirth writing in the University of Denver, Sturm College of Law, Water Law Review. Click through and read the whole article. Here’s an excerpt:

At the 2017 University of Denver Water Law Review Symposium in Denver Colorado, former United States Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, offered his insight into what water means as a Coloradan.

Secretary Salazar began with how his history has defined what water means to him. His family has farmed and ranched the soils of the Rio Grande and its tributaries in the San Luis Valley since 1598. His family had priority number twenty-three out of the Rio San Antonio, and good and bad years affected his family’s crop. Secretary Salazar said he did not grow up rich, but he grew up surrounded by the Sangre de Cristo and San Juan mountains and the Rio Grande and Rio San Antonio. A lot of the divine providence that guided him through the experiences of serving the people of Colorado and the United States he said started in the San Luis Valley where he learned about the nexus between humans and the planet on which we survive.

Secretary Salazar applauded Colorado for being a pioneer in dealing with water issues, but warned that the state still has a long way to go. Colorado pioneered the doctrine of Prior Appropriation, which, despite criticism, has changed and evolved to become a working system. Other historic examples of where Colorado led the way include Colorado’s efforts to integrate ground and surface water uses in the 1960s and Colorado’s creation of the Instream Flow Program in the 1970s.

Secretary Salazar next identified two major water-related challenges facing Colorado: population growth and climate change. Colorado’s population is expected to nearly double in the next forty years. The challenge Colorado faces is how to supply those additional people and still preserve the open spaces its citizens have come to love. Secretary Salazar also briefly addressed climate change. According to projections, the Colorado River and the Rio Grande basins can expect to see a significant reduction in precipitation. So, as environmental demands increase, Secretary Salazar is hopeful that society will continue to recognize the importance of protecting and restoring America’s ecosystems.

#ColoradoRiver: Lower Basin still needs to work out the #Drought Contingency Plan #COriver

The Colorado River Basin is divided into upper and lower portions. It provides water to the Colorado River, a water source that serves 40 million people over seven states in the southwestern United States. Colorado River Commission of Nevada

From KJZZ (Bret Jaspers):

Arizona State University law professor Rhett Larson is a fan of [Minute 323], but pointed out there are other Colorado River negotiations.

“While it’s great news for relationships between the United States and Mexico, it places a lot of pressure on the lower basin states Arizona, California, and Nevada to come to an agreement between themselves,” he said.

Larson added that water laws governing the lower basin states are more rigid than U.S. and Mexico treaties. Because of that, interstate water negotiations are harder than the just-finished binational talks.

Tom Buschatzke, Arizona’s director of Water Resources, said the so-called “Drought Contingency Plan” for the lower-basin states is more or less done. But Arizona and California have some internal work to do.

“Within Arizona, it’s issues regarding the impacts to various water user groups — homebuilders and developers, agricultural tribes and cities — who are all disproportionately impacted by the additional reductions that will occur in Arizona,” he told reporters after the Minute 323 announcement on Wednesday.

Buschatske said these details need to be settled before Arizona can ink its deal with California and Nevada.