— Sheep Mtn Alliance (@sheepmtn) October 13, 2014
I have never endorsed a candidate here on Coyote Gulch but this year I’m making an exception and asking you to vote for Mark Udall. You can consider this post a call to arms of sorts.
Like many progressives I was dismayed to see the major Colorado dailies endorsing Congressman Gardner.
I found The Pueblo Chieftain’s endorsement particularly troubling in its focus. Here’s the link (no paywall for this one).
You will see the omission of many of the areas where Congressman Gardner’s positions and record would not carry the day.
No mention of environmental issues, no mention of women’s issues, no mention of immigration, no mention of climate change, no mention of the millions that have taken advantage of the Affordable Care Act, no mention of the pressing infrastructure needs, no mention of the need to control air pollution, no mention of renewable energy or even a sensible energy policy, no mention of gay marriage, no mention of views about economics, no mention of respective records supporting Colorado business, no mention of the Colorado recreation economy, no mention of an understanding of Colorado’s place in the Colorado River Basin, no mention of education, no mention …
I guess if you feel like support for an environmental disaster for Canada and global CO2 (Keystone XL), premature opposition to Clean Water Act rulemaking (“Waters of the US”) instead of participation in the process, and opposition to extending healthcare to more Americans, are the most important positions for a Colorado Senator in 2014, then the congressman fits the bill. That’s the list for the editors of The Pueblo Chieftain.
It really comes down to Congressman Gardner’s campaign and their cynical hope that if you are a voter in the groups that support Senator Udall in the areas listed above you won’t take the trouble to fill out and return your ballot.
I do know that every election comes down to getting out the vote. So when your mail-in ballot shows up please put a checkmark next to Senator Udall’s name.
One final note. The Chieftain also mentions Congressman Gardner’s, “deep roots in the Eastern Plains,” which is a cool story.
Mark Udall’s father and uncle helped shape the current policy and facilities of the Colorado River Basin. Stewart Udall put his mark on wilderness as well. In my book the deep roots contest goes to Udall.
Disclosure: I registered as Republican in 1982 and left the party the morning after Rudy Giuliani’s speech at the 2008 Republican Convention.
From The Greeley Tribune (Kayla Young):
Two Weld County ballot initiatives aim to direct more tax dollars toward the Central Colorado Water Conservancy District with the intention of increasing water infrastructure and maintenance investments for agriculture and communities.
Ballot issue 4B proposes increasing the district’s annual tax allotment to a maximum of $750,000 in order to provide a stable water supply and maintain storage projects for farms, ranches and municipalities in Weld, Adams and Morgan counties.
Broken down, the home-owners’ tax would equate to an additional $2.34 a year for the owner of $100,000 house, said Kathy Parker, the district’s public information officer. She specified that business owners would not be subject to the levy.
Board member Randy Knutson emphasized the need for infrastructure improvements, especially following the wear and tear brought in 2013.
“With the flood last year and the increased maintenance and repair that we’ve been faced with, that’s a big reason for this particular tax increase, that and aging infrastructure,” he said.
He encouraged non-agricultural landowners to consider the possible benefits the tax would bring to overall quality of life.
“They benefit from agriculture; they benefit from water quality; they benefit from delivery of water, which eventually provides food for them,” he said.
The second ballot issue, 4C, would “de-bruce” funding restrictions created through the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR). In other words, the issue would open up excess tax revenue and grants not currently available to the district due to tax code regulations.
“We have lost millions of dollars by not being able to participate in funding and grant money that has been available. The TABOR amendment has limited our ability to participate,” Knutson said.
More 2014 Colorado November election coverage here.
From the Rifle Citizen Telegram (Heidi Rice):
Aging equipment and water lines in need of repair are the driving force behind the Silt Water Conservancy District’s ballot question 5A in November’s election seeking voter permission to “de-Bruce” and allow the agency to collect money to repair and replace needed equipment.
The district operates Rifle Gap Reservoir, Harvey Gap Reservoir and the irrigation systems for most the farmers north of the Colorado River in the Rifle and Silt areas.
According to the district’s board, a “yes” vote will not increase property or sales taxes, but it will give the district access to government grant money to help pay for the repairs.
“We are not going to raise taxes — all we’re doing is de-Brucing so we can get funding,” said Kelly Lyon, president of the Silt Water Conservancy District (SWCD). “Right now, there is a problem with Harvey Gap. There’s a big hole that’s not enclosed and there’s leakage. It’s not been fixed in years.”
The ballot measure would not only benefit those who use the irrigation ditch water, but also those who enjoy the Rifle Gap and Harvey Gap reservoirs that provide recreational activities.
From The Colorado Statesman (Ernest Luning):
“High and dry is not a water plan,” Beauprez responded to a question about water storage. “We simply must put a shovel in the ground.”
Saying he supports building water storage, no question, Beauprez contended that regulation gets in the way of building the projects Coloradans need. “A governor needs to lead on behalf of the people to eliminate regulatory hurdles, not add to them,” he said.
Hickenlooper countered that any big water storage project will take decades to complete and that “Every conversation has to start with conservation.” He also declined to take a position on the Northern Integrated Supply Project, a proposal to build reservoirs on the northern Front Range. “I’m not allowed to take — if I took a stand on NISP, it would jeopardize the entire federal process,” he said.
“On my watch,” Beauprez rebutted, “we’re going to build”
From the Colorado Springs Post Independent (Matthew Schniper):
…The Wilderness Society notes a new poll of 11 Western states that “shows strong support for taking action on legislation that would reinvest a portion of rents and royalties from renewable energy development on public lands to conservation activities.”
That legislation is the Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act (H.R. 596/S. 279), being pushed for a vote this fall.
More conservation coverage here.
From the Valley Courier (Ruth Heide):
As more people move to Colorado, the state is trying to make sure there will be enough water for them once they get here. Recognizing Colorado’s population will only continue to grow in future years, the state is developing a water plan encompassing all nine river basins including the Rio Grande Basin in the San Luis Valley. Last year the governor issued an executive order requiring the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) to complete a statewide water plan by December 2015.
About halfway through a statewide tour of the river basins, the state legislative committee heading up the water basin plan effort held a public meeting in Alamosa last week to see what local residents thought of the plan so far. There will be further public meetings in the future and the public may submit comments electronically at the web site: http://www.colorado.gov/lcs/WRRC
State Representative Randy Fischer, who is chairman of the legislative water resources review committee, encouraged comments to be made by October 1. He said the legislature does not have a role in formally adopting the water plan. The Colorado Water Conservation Board will adopt the plan in draft form by December of this year followed by the final water plan next year after additional public meetings.
CWCB Member Travis Smith said the drought of 2002 prompted the state legislature to really look at water supplies and future water needs.
“We have a water shortage issue and we have more people coming to Colorado,” he said. “We would like to preserve agriculture and Colorado’s values.”
One consensus developing from the basins around the state is that each basin wants to keep the water it has, and each basin has future needs of its own on top of the statewide needs to serve a growing populace.
“Export is a big deal here,” Water Educator Judy Lopez told the legislators as a mes- sage from the group for which she served as spokesperson . “We will rise and fight it.”
The Rio Grande Basin water plan is being developed under the jurisdiction of the Rio Grande Roundtable, which hired DiNatale Water Consultants to develop the basin plan. Members of the roundtable and other local residents have spent numerous hours compiling a draft plan that sets out specific goals for the basin and how they could be accomplished in the future.
Of the 14 specific goals of the plan, highlights include: protecting and restoring sustainability , watershed health and water quality; abiding by existing water rules such as the doctrine of prior appropriation , state water regulations and the interstate compacts; creating infrastructure such as storage for long-term water needs; sustaining the basin’s agricultural economy; developing projects with multiple benefits ; preserving wildlife habitats and wetlands; providing water-related recreational activities; and continuing to educate the public about water.
The proposed plan also provides a template for those wishing to submit water projects for funding in the future. The template sets up a matrix of basin plan goals so the applicant can see how the potential project meets and measures up to those goals.
During last week’s public meeting regarding the plan, participants shared their ideas of how they believed the plan could be improved and what they believed was important to consider in future water planning.
Rancher and Colorado Parks/Wildlife Commissioner Dale Pizel urged the group to use the plan once it is formulated and not leave it on a shelf. He said he hoped this would be a plan that would be dog-eared with use and marked up for future changes to make it better.
“I want the plan to be used, and I want it to change, and I want it to go on because it is necessary if we are going to deal with problems of Colorado population and loss of agriculture,” he said.
Rio Grande Roundtable Chairman Mike Gibson urged the legislative committee to be involved after the state plan is completed.
“Let this process continue. Present it to the governor. Then the legislature should step in. For the statewide plan to work we will need to be considering changing some of the constraints that are out there today that would prohibit it from being implemented ” like regulations about new infrastructure.”
Comments coming out of the group discussion process included:
• Be sure the plan recognizes and upholds the doctrine of prior appropriation.
• The plan calls for sustaining the confined and unconfined aquifers, but it should also call for restoring the aquifers.
• Using water for multiple benefits and diversified ways is critical and requires cooperation among water users and agencies.
• The plan should not only address future human needs but also the needs of wildlife and riparian habitat.
• Consider recreational and environmental water uses/ needs.
• Soil health is also connected to watershed health and should be considered.
• Perhaps the basin plans should address trans-mountain diversions, some of which are occurring already. However , there is concern about new diversions from this basin to the Front Range or elsewhere, and attempts to do so would meet with resistance. Perhaps the state should keep the status quo regarding current trans-mountain diversions.
• The Valley has many outdated water infrastructures requiring repair or replacement , and the basin water users hope the state plan and the Colorado Water Conservation Board will continue to financially support those needs.
• New and repaired reservoirs are crucial to meeting future water needs, and the state should be more flexible with its regulations to allow such facilities to be improved, expanded, replaced or newly constructed.
• There must be more storage in this basin. A reservoir at the state line would be beneficial , for example.
• It is important to find ways of making existing storage facilities more effective both in this basin and statewide.
• Give the water planning process sufficient time to develop sound, well-reasoned workable plans.
• Streamline the permitting process for water projects going before the state for funding.
• Accurate forecasts are crucial to this basin and the irrigators who are under constant call to meet Rio Grande Compact obligations, so it is vital to maintain technology and resources such as SNOTEL sites to provide as accurate forecasts as possible. Use technology to better measure water uses as well.
• If this basin uses its water more effectively and carefully it could help meet water needs in other parts of the state where the population is expected to increase in future years. However, if water is transferred from this basin to supply urban development, the water should be used effectively and not excessively in those developments.
• Consider the economic impact locally and statewide of increasingly more agricultural acreage being fallowed and take into account that some of that fallowing in this basin is an intentional means to restore the aquifer per state mandates.
• It is important to find ways to decrease water usage and conserve water, not just locally but throughout the state, so the existing supplies can be better utilized.
• Land use planning should be integrated into the water plan.
• Address climate change in the water plan.
• Maybe the state should look to outside water sources, such as the Mississippi River, for new water to meet increasing population demands.
• Consider the relationship of solar energy development to water, or the lack of it.
• Consider oil/gas development in the state water plan.
• It is important for this basin and its agricultural economy to prevent a “buy and dry” acquisition of farmland.
• The state water plan should acknowledge the unique characteristics of each basin and that each basin is different.
More Colorado Water Plan coverage here.