It’s been one year since Governor Hickenlooper announced our first-ever state water plan.
The Colorado Water Plan took over two years to write and was based on input from the seven basin roundtables and 30,000 comments from Coloradans across the state. QQ worked on the development of the Plan extensively, from meeting with state officials to submitting written comments to presenting to the Colorado Water Conservation Board. The plan is a great accomplishment, making it clear that the main focus to address the growing demand for a diminishing supply of water throughout the State is conservation.
In fact, the plan prioritizes water conservation as never before, setting an urban conservation goal of reducing water use by one percent per year by 2050. It’s scope is ambitious in many ways, calling for stream management plans (SMPs) for 80 percent of Colorado’s priority rivers by 2030, aiming for 50,000 acre-feet of water shared among farmers and ranchers with cities by 2030 through flexible agreements, supporting local efforts to have 80% of Coloradans living in communities with water savings measures in local master plans, and proposing Coloradans use a much more comprehensive evaluation approach of new water projects, making sure the state is only investing in or endorsing projects that use public resources wisely, protect river and wildlife, and reflect community values.
While the creation of the plan is laudable, one year later not a lot has been accomplished to meet those objectives. There is some forward movement but the current pace is clearly not fast enough to meet any of the goals set for 2020.
On the Western Slope, we are especially concerned about how the state plans to spend money on new water projects. It is imperative that new water projects are multipurpose, focus on conservation and re-use, emphasize diverse stakeholder involvement from the beginning of a project, and avoid or mitigate economic and social impacts of a proposed project. We appreciate the ongoing work of the Colorado Water Conservation Board to develop funding sources that support all elements of the Water Plan in extremely challenging financial uncertainty for the State.
The Colorado Water Plan has provided us with an excellent blueprint for practical solutions that best ensure a balanced protection of water for our cities, farms, and the rivers that sustain our Colorado way of life. At this point to keep implementation of the Plan on track, we need Governor Hickenlooper and legislators to move forward on the plan’s conservation goals and speed up tangible efforts to reduce water use, increase re-use and implement common sense policies that will help our cities and counties across the state – rural and urban alike — meet the plan’s goals.
We’ll continue to gather coverage from other sources on the one year anniversary of the Water Plan, including:
- Summit Daily News, Colorado Water Plan faces new hurdles on one-year anniversary, Nov. 13, 2016.