In #Colorado implementing the #COWaterPlan will fall to the next governor

Colorado Water Plan website screen shot November 1, 2013

From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Floyd Ciruli):

Although Colorado has identified its water needs and has a state plan, 2018 will be a year of political transition. Will a new governor and legislature keep water at the top of the agenda or allow it to drop until the next water crisis? Many local agencies need financial help that can’t be met through local ratepayers alone. The state water plan identified $3 billion in unmet needs. And, as California has demonstrated, conservation must be a well-articulated state goal with significant resources dedicated to public education. California cut statewide use by 25 percent during the last drought through massive education coordinated with local agencies. But, leadership, both local and from the state, is needed.

Gov. John Hickenlooper accelerated the work of former governors Bill Owens and Bill Ritter to help address the state’s projected water shortage, but he only has one year left in office. Fortunately, besides Hickenlooper’s advancement of the scientific base behind the need for new projects, his use of a state planning process that involved all eight water basins in cooperation and decision-making and his issuing of a completed state water plan in December 2015, he has also seen real progress during his term on projects. He helped facilitate approval of Denver Water’s Gross Reservoir and Northern Water’s Windy Gap projects. Still, much remains to be done.

■ How will pressing water issues fare through the upcoming political transition?

■ Will the research, river basin collaboration and planning continue?

■ Will permitting of the water projects now underway continue to make progress?

■ Will the next wave of projects — many in rural and small towns — get permitted, funded and built?

■ Will the state initiate and fund a statewide conservation public education program?

■ Will the state continue its planning processes in order to lead a ballot issue funding effort? (The previous proposal, controversial in design and promotion, failed in 2003, but lessons were learned.)

The planning and development capabilities of Colorado’s water community have grown significantly, but the needs are growing faster still. Through the 2018 political transition, we must ensure that water remains a top priority and not become another state plan ignored in a government file.

@JaredPolis talks recreation districts

Colorado Capitol building

From The Montrose Press (Andrew Kiser):

“We want to make sure our great outdoor recreation opportunities are even better for Coloradans,” Polis said. “I think by focusing on it we can do that and create good jobs as well as in the outdoor recreation industry.”

One of the aspects of the plan includes the establishment of the Colorado conservation and recreation districts. By creating such regions, lesser-known locations in the state can be discovered by tourists, he noted.

“We can help get more people to some of our great sights in Colorado,” Polis said. “That way it can ease congestion in some of the most traveled to areas and it can highlight some of the other areas in our state that have great potential through conservation and recreation districts.

“I think a lot of local communities in western Colorado will take advantage of becoming conservation and recreation districts to really help put themselves on the map to create good jobs.”

It’s not just the sights that are crucial to visitors of the state, but also the recreational activities available in Colorado, he said. Polis noted his quality-of-life goal for residents is for people to continue with outdoor interests like biking, hiking, hunting and fishing.

“Those are all the reasons why we are so proud and excited to be Coloradans,” Polis said. “We really rely on having access to great wild areas in open spaces.”

Those considerable landscapes are also key features for people interested in discovering outdoor activities in Colorado, he added.

“It’s an important part of filling our restaurants, hotels and retail stores,” Polis said. “So, it’s an important job creator in our state as we can attract people from other areas of the country for skiing, hunting, fishing or hiking.”

He added to keep such pursuits viable means to improve funding for Colorado Parks and Wildlife. With 80 percent of CPW revenue coming from users fees, Polis said he does not desire to have outdoor enthusiasts pay for most of it.

“We want to make sure the full burden of maintaining trails and our public lands doesn’t fall on anglers and hunters,” Polis said.

A way to potentially work on that is by creating a commission filled with people from the recreation side, hunters and environmental experts, he noted.

Additionally, the representative said he means to make sure the CPW and the Conservation and Great Outdoors Colorado trust funds are financed. Polis said it’s vital for GOCO to remain intact as it’s been invaluable for creating work.

“It’s really important to secure funding for Great Outdoors Colorado,” Polis said, adding such grants support over 11,000 jobs and provide millions of dollars in economic activity for the state.

It also has helped with financing locally.

The Montrose Recreation District has received numerous grants from GOCO. One of the more recent ones came in September 2017 when the City of Montrose and MRD’s $2 million grant application for trail connections was approved by the organization.

Jason Ullmann, MRD Board vice president and current acting president, said if it wasn’t for one of those grants in the past the Community Recreation Center wouldn’t have its amenities outside of the facility.

“With many of those outdoor facilities, we wouldn’t have built Phase 2, which includes the trials and pickleball courts. We wouldn’t have those without GOCO,” Ullmann said. “So the rec center was made much better with those grant dollars.”

Part of Polis’ plan is to make sure the ecosystem is still intact. He explained many organisms are on the Endangered Species list, which can lead to a snowball effect if they become wiped out.

“With certain species that become extinct it’s not just them that are affected,” Polis said. “It can lead to overpopulation of other species, it can throw entire ecosystems out of whack, it can ruin the outdoor experience for hunters or anglers, so it’s very important to help maintain healthy ecosystems.”

He added going forward he wants to preserve the outdoor way of life for future generations of Coloradans.

“We need to make sure we are protecting our environment and that we leave a legacy for our kids and grandkids in the same great state we live in,” Polis said.

What about water?

Polis said he supports Gov. John Hickenlooper’s Colorado Water Plan, and if elected, he will implement it.

“We want to make sure we have a collaborative approach to transmountain diversion. That we can make sure that our Western Colorado communities aren’t forced to pay the price for Front Range growth,” Polis said. “We want to make sure people across our whole state have access to high-quality water for the quantities we need for agricultural, as well as residents.”

Colorado Water Congress Annual Convention @COWaterCongress #cwcac2018

Coyote Albuquerque February 2015 photo by Roberto E. Rosales via the Albuquerque Journal.

I’ll be live-tweeting from the Colorado Water Congress Annual Convention today. Follow along on Twitter @CoyoteGulch or better yet, follow the conference hash tag #CWCAC2018.

Fort Lupton: #Colorado GOP gubernatorial candidates hit the trail

Colorado Capitol building

From 9News.com (Anusha Roy):

When it comes to education, several candidates supported more vocational training.

Two candidates, Doug Robinson and Greg Lopez, said a four-year college may not be the right choice for everyone.

And candidate Tom Tancredo, who’s run twice for governor before, said any student who graduates from a public high school should also be able to pass a citizenship test.

The candidates also supported the oil and gas industry. However Steve Barlock, who worked on President Trump’s campaign, qualified his support saying the industry shouldn’t’t impact Colorado’s water.

Several candidates also mentioned transportation and the need for road improvements and called for more transparency with budgets.

From The Denver Post (John Aguilar):

Several candidates on Monday called for additional water storage in the state to help Colorado capture more of it and allow less of it to flow out of state. They said several large-scale reservoir projects need to move forward.

Endorsement: Amy Beatie for Colorado House District 4

I’m excited to endorse Amy, she has been a tireless champion for Colorado in her role at the Water Trust. Here’s the press release from Amy’s campaign:

Amy Beatie, Executive Director of the Colorado Water Trust since 2007, announces her endorsement by statewide and local leaders in the Democratic primary for State Representative in Denver’s House District 4. The endorsements come from Ruth Wright, second woman ever in Colorado to become the House Minority Leader, a role that she held from 1986-1992; Gail Schwartz, former State Senator from Crested Butte; and Jeni JAMES Arndt, current State Representative from Fort Collins.

Although she had been considering running for public office for some time, Beatie’s campaign began to truly take shape after her graduation from the Emerge triaining program of 2016, a program that trains progressive women to run for office. “Seasoned leadership matters now more than ever. I have dedicated my career to public service and working tirelessly for Colorado’s environment, but for years I had been feeling such a strong push to do more. I want to be part of helping create a cohesive, progressive, and strategic Democratic party in this state. This incredible northside community also wants someone who will improve our education system, our healthcare system, and our environment. Having been in leadership for most of my career, I’ll be ready to hit the ground running on day one.”

Sen. Schwartz endorsed Beatie saying that, “Amy has dedicated her career to the preservation of Colorado’s natural resources and public service to the people of Colorado. She has distinguished herself as the leader of one of Colorado’s most effective conservation organizations for over a decade. As a former State Senator, I know that Amy’s proven ability to work with diverse interests and communities, along with a deep background on statewide issues, will make her an excellent representative.”

Beatie successfully guided the Colorado Water Trust over the last decade to return over 7 billion gallons of water to over 375 miles of rivers and streams in the State of Colorado and Jeni Arndt, State Representative from Fort Collins, was impressed with Beatie’s knowledge of the state’s water issues. “Effectively managing our state’s water is critical to our shared future. Amy has been a leader on water conservation in Colorado for a decade and having her knowledge and experience in the legislature would be an invaluable contribution to our state’s efforts to plan for one of the most valuable resources in our state.”

Ruth Wright, second woman ever to become the House Minority Leader, a role that she held from 1986-1992, and former board member at the Colorado Water Trust spoke glowingly of Beatie’s ability to lead. “Amy has taken the Trust from an organization on the brink of closing and turned it into one of the most successful environmental organizations in the state. Amy infused the Trust with her vision and passion and I can see that same vision and passion in her run for the state house.”

Amy will be hosting her campaign kickoff on September 21st at the Historic Elitch Carousel Dome at 3775 Tennyson Street, Denver, CO 80212, including guest speakers Gail Schwartz and Rep. Jeni Arndt. All are welcome.

Club 20 Fall Conference recap #COpolitics

Colorado Capitol building

Here’s a report from Charles Ashby writing in The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. Click through to read the whole article. Here’s an excerpt:

“The one issue that I did not anticipate, but appreciate more than any of the other (issues), is water,” [George] Brauchler said Friday shortly after meeting with the Grand Junction Economic Partnership about business issues. “On the Front Range, the water issue is when I turn on my tap, is it there? Getting around the state as much as I have over the past five months, water is a huge issue.” Brauchler said his lack of understanding about water issues prompted him to meet with numerous water experts, including those with the Colorado River District.

His main takeaway, which is still under development, is more storage and more conservation…

[Donna] Lynne was the only candidate for the Democratic Party nomination to make it to the Grand Valley for the Club 20 meeting, giving the keynote address at Saturday’s lunch.

For the past 18 months working as Hickenlooper’s chief operating officer, Lynne said she’s learned much about the workings of Colorado government.

As an expert in health care matters, Lynne said one of her main focuses will be on getting the cost down, which has been a particularly troublesome issue for rural parts of the state.

“We need to talk about having enough (health care) plans in the state, and providing statewide coverage,” Lynne said. “The increases in the individual market unfortunately are a function of people dropping in and out of coverage, and we need to figure out how to encourage them to stay in for the entire year. That’s what’s hurting a lot of the health plans.”

From WesternSlopeNow.com (Briseida Holguin):

Water rights and public lands are two topics that both Republican Rep. Scott Tipton and Republican Sen. Cory Gardner from Colorado discussed in detail.

Relocating the Bureau of Land Management is a high priority for Gardner, “If your in Washington D.C. you’re a thousand miles removed from 99% of the acres managed by the Bureau of Land Management,”

Gardner says he has had great conversations with Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke to move this forward…

Along with public lands Tipton says protecting the state’s forest will save Colorado from having fires and says the House of Representatives recently passed the Resilient Federal Forest Act.

“To be able to go in and to treat those forests, to be able to bring them back to life, to be able to cut down that dead timber. Let’s look at the positives of what can happen when we are actively managing these forests in responsible way,” Tipton said.

Both lawmakers also find themselves on the same page about water rights.

“In Colorado water is a private property right,” Tipton said.

“The federal government should not be able to dictate to Colorado what a Colorado water law or permit is allowed to be,” Gardner said.

Both Gardner and Tipton feel legislation on Colorado water rights will soon pass.

“We’re able to pass that through the house of representatives and out of the committee with by partisan support. That is now over in the senate waiting for action. I’m pleased to be able to report to you that the committee that Cory sits on just dealt the first hearing on that legislation,” Tipton said.

Tipton says he is optimistic that Congress will pass a law to protect Colorado’s water rights and that it will soon be on the president’s desk for his signature.