New state task force starts work on responding to worst-case #ColoradoRiver scenarios — #Colorado Public Radio #COriver #aridification

Colorado River “Beginnings”. Photo: Brent Gardner-Smith/Aspen Journalism

Click the link to read the article on the Colorado Public Radio website (Michael Elizabeth Sakas). Here’s an excerpt:

The Colorado state legislature created the task force last year to bring together representatives from agriculture, water managers from Front Range cities and Western Slope towns, environmentalists, Southern Ute and Ute Mountain Ute representatives and industry. The 17 members will meet 10 times until Dec. 7, when it will submit a report of recommendations to lawmakers ahead of the 2024 legislative session…Colorado’s new task force will consider how the state might be affected if the Colorado River and its reservoirs drop to critically-low levels. The federal government has threatened to step in and make water cuts necessary to prevent that. There’s also concern that, eventually, Colorado and the other upper-basin states— Wyoming, Utah and New Mexico — might have to respond to legal challenges if the downstream states — Arizona, Nevada and California — feel they aren’t getting enough water. 

“My greatest fear about the task force is that we know that the lower basin is going to be watching, other states in the Colorado River Basin are watching,” said Lee Miller, general counsel of the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District. “That we don’t give them fuel to divide us more or use it against us in the negotiations for the interim guideline extension.”


Upper Colorado River Commissioner Rebecca Mitchell, who was recently appointed as the state’s first full-time Colorado River representative and negotiator, is a member of a subcommittee that will focus on tribal water issues. 

“I think really my focus is to make sure that as I go into the negotiations, that Colorado stands united, because I think that’s going to be incredibly important,” Mitchell said at the meeting.

She said the current guidelines on how managing the Colorado River and Lake Mead and Lake Powell, “aren’t working for us right now, and they really have not worked for the tribes ever.”

Native America in the Colorado River Basin. Credit: USBR