@GovofCO presents his final state of the state address

Colorado Water Plan website screen shot November 1, 2013

Here’s the complete text of the speech from The Denver Post. Here’s an excerpt:

We created the country’s first and best methane regulations; a water plan that secures food production; protected the sage grouse from being listed as an endangered species; and developed an electric vehicle infrastructure spanning 7,000 miles.

We cut or modified almost half of our rules and regulations. And in doing so, saved businesses nearly eight million dollars and over two million hours last year alone.

Two million hours!

And we measured our progress on everything that matters.

We trained thousands of employees who completed 600 LEAN process improvements…created more value for Coloradans and won several awards…

So we will not let up. We won’t stop to enjoy the view. We have a lot to accomplish in the next 119 days:

● We need to find the right solution to PERA’s unfunded liability.
● We need to pass legislation to safely cap orphan wells.
● We need to halt the opioid epidemic that continues to destroy lives and families, and disproportionately affects our rural communities.
● We need to enact a K-12 and Infrastructure Funding Plan that will help make the Water Plan a reality.
● We need legislation and funds to ensure full broadband buildout in rural areas.
● And we need to protect our rural communities by addressing the intense, negative impact the Gallagher amendment has had, and will have, in the future.

It’s a commonsense agenda…

We need your support to get to the finish line. One of the most essential pieces of infrastructure in our economy is our natural landscape, our clean air and water — the things everyone thinks about when they hear the word “Colorado.”

It’s one reason why companies of all sorts have been drawn to this place we love. And the reason why the outdoor recreation show is coming to Denver in a couple weeks along with its $110 million in economic impact.

It’s why many of our farmers and ranchers, who live on the land, came here, and stay here.

But the responsibility to be good stewards doesn’t only fall on rural parts of the state. It rests with all of us.

Xcel has submitted a plan to close two coals plants in Pueblo. This will clean our air and lower costs for consumers – and lead to greater investments that support 21st-century careers.

What is it the critics don’t like? Is it the cleaner air or the lower utility bills?

Clean air matters.

Xcel is also working with Evraz Rocky Mountain Steel — one of the cleanest steel plants in the world — to move toward renewable energy while protecting Pueblo’s future as a center for steel manufacturing. We need everyone’s support to make this a reality.

Pueblo is known as steel city, but soon it could also be “solar and wind city.”

Most of us agree that science shows climate change is happening at a significant rate in large part because of humans. But even those of us who disagree on climate change can agree that we need to protect the Colorado environment our grandchildren will grow to love with a strong economy where they can find jobs.

This includes protecting our water for agriculture. If we don’t implement our water plan, rural agricultural communities will be hit first and hardest. We live in a state of open markets. They can never afford to match what Front Range homeowners pay for domestic water.

Having a sustainable source of food — no matter what happens around the world — is an essential foundation for the future of our state.

We’re one of the great food exporting states and that’s a resource we should continue to invest in…rather than put at risk.

The Colorado Water Plan provides a framework but doesn’t include all the funding for the last $1 billion over the next 30 years. We need the support of the General Assembly.

But the cost of water has been a small part of rising new housing prices along much of the Front Range and elsewhere. It strains one’s ability to love where they live when they can’t afford the price of a home or even rent near the jobs and communities they care about.

@COWaterCongress Annual Convention, January 24 – 26, 2018 #cwcac2018

Travis Smith and past Aspinall Award Recipients at the 2017 Aspinall Award Luncheon. L to R: David Robbins; Harold Miskel, Eric wilkinson; Ray Kogovsek; Gale Norton; Lewis Entz; Don Ament, Travis Smith; Hank Brown. Photo credit Greg Hobbs.

Click here for all the inside skinny and to register:

The Colorado Water Congress Annual Convention takes place annually, in January, for three days in Denver, Colorado. The 2018 convention will take place at the Hyatt Regency Denver Tech Center, January 24-26.

The Colorado Water Congress Annual Convention is the premier water industry event in the state, attracting 500+ attendees that convene for networking and collaboration on the important water issues of the day.

2018 #COleg: LSPWCD supports Reservoir Release Bill

North Sterling Reservoir

From The Sterling Journal-Advocate (Jeff Rice):

The Lower South Platte Water Conservancy District’s Executive Committee voted Tuesday to support the Reservoir Release Bill that should be taken up by the General Assembly later this month.

The committee reviewed a draft of the bill at its Tuesday meeting and made clear that it supports the draft as it now exists.

The bill covers only the Northern Integrated Supply Project now, but might affect any future water project and possibly projects that include expansion of existing reservoirs. It requires Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District to maintain a prescribed stream flow in the Cache la Poudre River as it passes through Fort Collins, or about 12 miles of river channel. That water flow would be regulated by releases of water from Glade Reservoir.

The proposed legislation converts into law a plan Northern Water presented last year, and that the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission signed off on last September, that mitigates NISP’s impact on recreational use of the river through Fort Collins

The key to getting groups like Lower South Platte to support it is a section called “Costs of Bypass Structures.” In order for river flow to be maintained from the water release point at Glade Reservoir to the end of the project, it will have to flow past several irrigation diversion structures. Because a constant stream flow must be maintained, some or all of those structures will have to be modified because they now completely block the river and dry up the river at several places. Ordinarily, that’s allowable as long as sufficient water is returned to the river somewhere downstream.

But under the terms of the Reservoir Release Bill, the prescribed stream flow has to stay in the river, which means diversion structures will have to be rebuilt or modified to allow water to go around them.

The Costs of Bypass Structures clause puts the cost burden of those modifications on the reservoir owner, who is the party responsible for maintaining prescribed stream flow; in this case, that’s Northern Water.

Lower South Platte’s manager, Joe Frank, told the executive committee Tuesday he thought the district should publicly support the draft legislation, partly to avoid any misunderstanding.

“Last year we took a neutral stance on (a previous version) and someone took that to mean we didn’t care about it,” Frank said. “We do care, we care deeply, and we support it. What we meant was that we didn’t oppose the plan, but someone took it to mean we didn’t support it, either.”

During discussion of the legislation Bruce Phillips, the state’s water commissioner for District 64 which includes the lower South Platte, said he thought stream maintenance provisions would be required in all storage projects…

Ken Fritzler, the district’s board chairman, asked whether other committee members thought the draft legislation is something the board could publicly support. Gene Manuello answered that he thought it was.

“I think we should support the draft as it is now,” he said. “We have supported NISP all along, and I think a majority of WRASP supports it.”

WRASP stands for Water Rights Appropriators of the South Platte; it is a consortium that represents more than 240,000 irrigated acres from Barr Lake to Julesburg, and more than 1,150 high capacity irrigation wells that draw from the South Platte alluvial aquifer.

2018 #COleg: Water Resources Review Committee wants to charge $25 per boat to fight quaggas

Colorado Capitol building

From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Charles Ashby):

■ Farmers and ranchers could see some incentives to hire interns to work in the agricultural industry. The idea, from the Young and Beginning Farmers Interim Study Committee, would reimburse qualifying farms and ranches up to 50 percent of the cost of hiring such interns. Donovan and Rep. Marc Catlin, R-Montrose, are to introduce that bill.

■ A few measures designed to limit oil and gas development, and the use of hydraulic fracturing, are expected to return again this session. Those include measures to give local governments more say about where drilling can occur and increasing the state’s standard for how much power must be generated from renewable energy.

■ To help crack down on people who fail to extinguish their campfires adequately, Coram and Hamner, members of the Legislature’s Wildfire Matters Review Committee, are to introduce a measure to increase the penalty for leaving a campfire unattended, moving it from a petty offense to a class 3 misdemeanor punishable by up to a $750 fine and six months in jail.

■ The Legislature’s Water Resources Review Committee, meanwhile, is proposing creating a $25 special stamp that all boaters would have to purchase for a new Aquatic Nuisance Species Program. That program is designed to raise funds to battle foreign species like the zebra mussel.

2018 #COleg: Mussel Free Colorado Act, sponsored by the water resources review committee, to be introduced in January

Quaggas on sandal at Lake Mead

From The Loveland Reporter-Herald (Pamela Johnson):

The Mussel Free Colorado Act, sponsored by the water resources review committee, is expected to be introduced to legislators in early 2018 and, if passed, would provide funding starting in 2019 by requiring boaters to buy an aquatic nuisance species stamp. These fees, $25 for Colorado residents and $50 for out-of-state boaters, would generate about $2.4 million per year and could increase with inflation, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

The legislation also would increase the penalties for boaters who launch on lakes and reservoirs without an inspection from $50 to $100 and continues existing severance tax appropriations for the program.

The state’s Aquatic Nuisance Species Act, approved in 2008, required boat inspections starting in 2009 at many lakes and reservoirs across the state — a program that has resulted in more than 3.5 million boat inspections, that wildlife officials say truly has protected waters and that is a model to other states.

In fact, those inspections kept 25 mussel-infested boats off Colorado waters in 2017, keeping at bay a threat that state officials believe will likely increase as infestations spread nationwide through boats that move from water to water.

@AmericanRivers: The big picture of @ColoradoWaterPlan – two years in

Click here to listen to the podcast. From the American Rivers website:

Last week, the state celebrated the second anniversary of Colorado’s Water Plan. Over the last two years, the state has made solid progress funding grants to advance water projects and increase funding for stream management plans. However, the challenges identified in the plan are significant. A swelling population is stretching our water resources, and climate change is having an impact, by reducing flows on the Colorado River. We need to pick up the pace toward implementing all of the Plan’s water solutions if we are to reach our goal of securing clean reliable water for our communities, preserving our agricultural heritage, and protecting our rivers. Over the next few months, We Are Rivers will highlight the Colorado Water Plan through a series of episodes breaking down the opportunities, challenges, and successes to date from Colorado’s Water Plan. Join us for the first installment, as we look back at the last two years of the water plan and identify a sustainable path forward.

Growing up in New York, I envied the posters pinned up in my middle school hallways that honored Colorado landscapes like the Maroon Bells, Dinosaur National Monument, the Great Sand Dunes, and of course the Colorado River as it weaves through canyons and deserts. But moving to Colorado six years ago, tacking on to Colorado’s growing population, I haven’t exactly made life easier for the state’s water managers. Without the native badge, I empathize with the influx of people flooding into Colorado who have recreational fervor, career hopes, and of course adventure in mind, straining the West’s already overtapped water supply.

Colorado’s population is projected to double by 2050, with most of the growth occurring on the Front Range, where about 80% of the people live. With about 80% of the state’s water coming from west slope snowpack, the imbalance is striking. Additionally, like many other states across the Southwest, Colorado is experiencing higher temperatures, reduced precipitation, and earlier and faster runoff. With growing population and climate change impacts, how can Colorado work to close our gap in supply and demand? Through increased collaboration, dialogue, and efficiencies, the Colorado Water Plan sets out to address this grand dilemma.

The Colorado Water Plan sets a goal of conserving 400,000 acre-feet of municipal and industrial water by 2050. By 2025, if the Water Plan objectives are met, 75% of Coloradans will live in communities that have water-saving actions incorporated into land-use planning. Furthermore, by 2030, the plan sets out to A) re-use and share at least 50,000 acre-feet of water amongst agricultural producers, B) cover 80% of locally prioritized rivers with Stream Management Plans, and C) ensure 80% of critical watersheds with Watershed Protection Plans. In order for a project to utilize the Water Plan’s budget to meet these goals, the proposed conservation project must be appropriate in that it addresses real needs and is cost-effective, sustainable, and supported by local stakeholders.

The state has taken a great step forward by allocating $10 million per year for Water Plan Implementation grants. While this is a first step, we must further fund the plan’s broader strategies as well. Public investment in water projects must be smart, which starts with meeting all of the “criteria” in the Colorado Water Plan. Before any new, significant projects are proposed, the state should apply all of the Water Plan’s criteria in order to demonstrate that the state is committed to investing in (or endorsing) only projects that use public resources wisely, protect rivers and wildlife, and reflect community values. The last two years have seen state funding disproportionately spent on costly structural projects while sustainable, cost-effective methods, such as water reuse and flexible water-sharing agreements have been undervalued and underfunded. Creative conservation projects are essential in upholding the Water Plan to sustain the natural beauty of Colorado’s rivers and streams and ensure a safe and reliable drinking water supply.

However, it is important to note that there is nothing legally binding in the Water Plan that requires Colorado to abide by its outlined goals. Therefore, the success of the plan solely relies on the motivation of everyday people to work together as a community to hold politicians and basin roundtables accountable with respect to the plan. I encourage you to learn more about where your water comes from and what you can do as an individual to reduce your water consumption. We all need to work collaboratively to reduce our demand for water.

As we celebrate the second anniversary of Colorado’s Water Plan, we have an opportunity, and a responsibility to rally behind the premise of the Plan, keeping Colorado beautiful and sustainable for all. Join us over the next few months as we dive into the mechanics of Colorado’s Water Plan, and why it is so important to see it succeed.

Colorado Water Plan website screen shot November 1, 2013

Jerry Sonnenberg awarded Colorado Livestock Association’s Legislator of the Year Award

From The Sterling Journal-Advocate (Jeff Rice):

State Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, the Republican who represents Senate District 1 of northeast Colorado, told the Colorado Livestock Association’s Northeast Livestock Symposium on Tuesday that he’ll work to keep the Environmental Agricultural Program alive because it gives agriculture a voice in state environmental concerns.

The program, administered by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, oversees air and water quality protection regulations specific to animal feeding operations. That includes permitting, conducting site inspections, developing and implementing policies and regulations, providing technical assistance and initiating enforcement actions in coordination with the CDPHE’s Air and Water Quality divisions.

“A lot of people thought, when this program started, that it was just another way for CDPHE to hammer on us, and that’s why it’s sunsetted,” Sonnenberg said. “But it’s turned out to be one of those programs that actually uses a lot of common sense, and it gives (livestock producers) a voice when it comes to making regulations and policies.”

The senator said that, with the program’s track record, there is talk of removing the sunset requirement of the program, or at least moving it to a seven-year interval, and that he would support that move.

The legislature also will likely get involved with the Gilcrest high water table problem, which is causing property damage in and around Gilcrest as well augmentation practices — necessary to maintain the health of the South Platte River aquifer — have raised the water table during the irrigation season. A pilot program allows irrigators to pump without augmenting locally, but putting water in the river from other sources.

Sonnenberg said it might be better to store the augmentation water in reservoirs further away from Gilcrest so release of the water into the river can be better timed to the need for water downstream…

Sonnenberg said that, while he remains absolutely committed to the ideals and values of the Republican party, there is a certain efficiency and effectiveness that comes from split ownership of the General Assembly. He said it tends to moderate the extremes on both sides of the aisle in both houses and forces members of the parties to work together. The senator said he didn’t see the balance changing much in the 2018 elections.

And, he said, as long as he is in the legislature, he will represent all of agriculture…

Because of that representation, Sonnenberg was later awarded the Colorado Livestock Association’s Legislator of the Year Award for his work on behalf of farming and ranching families and the industries that support them.

“Senator Jerry Sonnenberg is a real-life farmer and rancher who has a deep-rooted understanding of and passion for agriculture in Colorado. This is most evident in his actions as he represents not just his constituents in Senate District One, but all of Colorado agriculture in carrying out his duties in the Colorado Senate,” Bill Hammerich, CEO of Colorado Livestock Association, said in an announcement. “Because of his commitment to and support of agriculture in the legislative arena the Colorado Livestock Association is proud to recognize Senator Jerry Sonnenberg as the CLA 2017 Legislator of the Year.”