2020 #COleg: HB20-1095 [Local Governments Water Elements In Master Plans]

From The Durango Herald (Shannon Mullane):

Colorado House Bill 1095 says if a local government’s comprehensive plan includes a water-supply element, it must also include conservation policies. While there might be disagreement on how to conserve, some planners are already incorporating water into their land-use decisions…

In the Southwest basin, water demand is projected to increase between 17,000 and 27,000 acre feet by 2050, according to the Basin Implementation Plan. That’s with some conservation by users…

According to scientific models, the Southwest is also more vulnerable to drought as the climate warms, said Gigi Richard, director of the Four Corners Water Center at Fort Lewis College.

“One, we know our population is growing. Two, we know our climate is warming,” Richard said. “Those two things are going to put stresses on the quantity of water available.”

Durango and Bayfield have already included some water conservation measures into their community planning. Ignacio lacks any specific water conservation measures.

The town does not have a comprehensive plan, an advisory document that outlines long-term goals for community development required by state statute…

Vallecito Reservoir during Missionary Ridge Fire via George Weber Environmental.

In Durango, the comprehensive plan references a 2015 sustainable action plan and a 2011 water efficiency management plan. The last time the city implemented water restrictions was in 2002, the year of the Missionary Ridge Fire.

“If that bill passed, I feel confident that we’ve integrated enough … that we would meet those requirements,” Biggs said. “We could always do more and do better.” In Bayfield, the town’s 2005 comprehensive plan does not include some of the town’s updated policies. For example, the 2018 Water Master Plan includes water supply requirements, and those would be incorporated when the comprehensive plan is updated. The town started looking at its emergency water measures during the drought in 2018.

“Every time we have a project in Bayfield, ‘Hey, is there adequate water?’” said Bayfield Mayor Matt Salka. “The answer is yes, but for the town of Bayfield, we always have water in mind.”

Water conservation and efficiency can be a charged topic among users.

Durango water users’ opinions on conservation methods are a “mixed bag,” Biggs said. Some people are actively trying to conserve, while others value a healthy lawn.

In Bayfield, most people seem to support the idea of water conservation, Salka said. “I don’t think it’s a big topic here from a development perspective,” Garcia said of Ignacio. “Some folks are looking at water conservation for reducing their own use and bill.”

For Richard, the more planning, the better.

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