Fort Collins: #COWaterPlan meeting September 17

September 16, 2014
Fort Collins back in the day via Larimer County

Fort Collins back in the day via Larimer County

From the Fort Collins Coloradoan:

State officials will host a meeting in Fort Collins on Wednesday, Sept. 17, to discuss the Colorado Water Plan with residents of the South Platte River Basin, the massive watershed that encompasses Fort Collins and the entire northeast corner of the state.

The water plan is a statewide initiative to prepare for long-term water use in Colorado, where burgeoning populations along the Front Range will tax Western Slope reservoirs in years to come. Colorado’s Rocky Mountains are the headwaters for most major rivers in the West, and provide water to 18 other states. But next to Arizona, the state is one of the last in the West to develop a statewide plan for water use.

A final draft of the plan is due to Gov. John Hickenlooper by December. However, Nov. 1 is the deadline for gathering public comment on the water plan. The plan is divided into basins, and each basin will have its own plan.

The Fort Collins meeting will address plans and concerns for the South Platte River Basin, and all residents from Fairplay to Julesberg are welcome to come. The meeting will be from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Fort Collins Senior Center, 1200 Raintree Drive. There is another meeting in Denver on Oct. 1 for the South Platte basin.

From the Cortez Journal (Jim Mimiaga):

The question is how to keep farming viable while covering a Front Range domestic supply gap expected to be between 350,000 and 500,000 acre-feet per year?

The state’s eight water basins are negotiating solutions that will culminate in a Colorado Water Plan for future management due out late next year.

Front Range metro suppliers say the solution is diverting more water from Western Slope rivers and reservoirs via the 22 transmountain diversions already in place.

But state water districts west of the Continental Divide are calling foul, and have calculated that if Front Range residents stop watering their thirsty Kentucky Bluegrass lawns it will be enough to make up the supply shortage.

“Ninety percent of domestic water use — your kitchen, bathroom, showers — makes it back to the river systems and reservoirs through return flows. It has less water-supply impact than watering lawns, which absorb 70-80 percent of it,” said Mike Preston, general manager for the Dolores Water Conservation District.

Preston is also chairman of the Southwest Water Roundtable, tasked with forming a local strategy for responsible water use and policy.

“The state proposes a 60-40 standard for domestic water consumption, 60 percent for in-home and 40 percent for outdoor lawns to better conserve water for ag production and population growth,” he said “But we’re getting a lot of pushback from Front Range water suppliers who are accustomed to the 50-50 ratio now.”

For domestic water obtained via transmountain diversions, the suggested ratio is 70 percent indoor use, and 30 percent outdoor use.

Furthermore, increasing transmountain diversions have far-reaching consequences. Siphoning off more Western Slope water to the Front Range threatens the state’s water-contract obligations for downstream states like Arizona, Nevada and California who depend on Colorado River basin water stored in Lake Powell and Lake Mead.

“They’re watching our water polices, more than we look at theirs,” Preston said. “Colorado is the headwaters for a lot of their supply.”

Meanwhile Western Slope water — especially the Blue Mesa Reservoir complex, near Gunnison, and Wyoming’s Flaming Gorge Reservoir — are looked at with envious eyes by Front Range water districts.

But the massive reservoirs are mainly designed to store water for contractual delivery to Lake Powell and Lake Mead relied on by Lower Basin states.

Colorado is entitled to 51 percent of Colorado River basin water above Lees Ferry, Ariz. Once it is diverted to the Front Range, it is lost to the Colorado River system, eventually draining east toward the Mississippi River.

To make a dent in unsustainable water demand in Fort Collins, Denver, and Colorado Springs, they should become more like Las Vegas, local water officials say.

The city’s successful lawn conservation program has vastly reduced water consumption, and includes strict drought-resistant landscaping regulations for future development…

“Front Range water district plans all include transmountain diversion as the solution,” Preston said. “We’re saying it won’t be considered until you get more aggressive about domestic conservation by limiting outdoor watering.”

More education is needed about the importance of responsible water management, said Bruce Whitehead, of the Southwest Water Conservation District.

“Many people don’t have a clue about the state water plan or the issues we’re facing,” he said. “We have a lot of work to do in our basin to educate the constituency.”

More Colorado Water Plan coverage here.


State Rep. Randy Fischer: Having a voice in water planning #COWaterPlan

September 15, 2014
Colorado Water Plan website screen shot November 1, 2013

Colorado Water Plan website screen shot November 1, 2013

From Steamboat Today (Randy Fischer):

“Water is essential to Colorado’s quality of life and economy, but our ability to maintain those values will be challenged by a growing population, increasing demands for water, and limited supplies of this precious resource.”

These words appear on the Colorado Water Conservation Board’s website, describing the need for and purpose of the proposed Colorado Water Plan, which is to be drafted by the end of 2014 under an executive order signed by Gov. John Hickenlooper in May 2013.

Our goal for the water plan is to provide a path forward for providing Coloradans with the water we need in the future while seeking to maintain such divergent values as healthy watersheds and environment, robust recreation and tourism economies, vibrant and sustainable cities and viable and productive agriculture.

Colorado’s Water Plan will build on eight years of extremely valuable water supply planning work by the Statewide Water Supply Initiative, the Inter-Basin Compact Committee and the nine Basin Roundtables, one for each of the major watersheds in the state.

In 2014, the Colorado General Assembly passed Senate Bill 14-115, which also recognized the need to engage the general public in the water planning process by gathering input through a series of public meetings in all the major river basins of Colorado. SB-115 directs the legislature’s Interim Water Resources Review Committee to convene these meetings, gather public input and provide comment on the draft water plan by Nov. 1.

The next of these public meetings is scheduled for Tuesday from 9 a.m. to noon at the Bud Werner Memorial Library in Steamboat Springs. This meeting is for residents of the Yampa and White river basins. I invite and encourage all residents of Northwest Colorado, from Steamboat to Rangeley, to attend this important meeting.

The WRRC recognizes that water issues inherently involve competing values that cannot all be resolved through technological or technical fixes. Different groups bring different values to the conversation. There is no “right” way to balance these competing interests and values. Through SB-115, the WRRC is asking the public to help make Colorado’s Water Plan a better document that seeks to represent the values of all state residents.

The WRRC also recognizes that the Colorado Water Plan will identify difficult choices and tradeoffs that will need to be made to plan for and create a sustainable water future. SB-115 envisions a public process that lays out these choices and tradeoffs facing Colorado and seeks to find a way through public input to navigate the difficult issues that lie ahead.

More Colorado Water Plan coverage here.


State water administration still evolving — Craig Cotten

September 14, 2014

sanluisvalleyearlywinterriograndeinitiative

From the Valley Courier (Craig Cotten):

State water administration still evolving

By CRAIG COTTEN Division Engineer Colorado Division of Water Resources

This is the thirteenth article in the series from the Rio Grande Basin Roundtable regarding the formation and implementation of the Basin Water Plan. VALLEY For more than 140 years, Colorado has used a system of water allocation known as the prior appropriation system.

Prior appropriation refers to the concept that those that put water to use first are entitled to get their water first during periods of water shortage, or put more simply, “First in Time, First in Right.” The Colorado Division of Water Resources is the sole state agency that is empowered to administer surface and groundwater to ensure that the prior appropriation doctrine is enforced.

The administration of water has been occurring in this area since before Colorado became a state. During the gold rush days when Colorado was still a territory, miners established ‘miners’ courts’ to handle disputes. Many times these disputes centered around water and who was entitled to use the water when there was not enough for everyone. It was during this time that the concept of prior appropriation really came into being in Colorado. In 1876 when Colorado became a state, the idea of a water administration system based upon the prior appropriation doctrine was enshrined in its constitution .

With the establishment of the position of water commissioners in 1879, Colorado became the first state in the nation to provide for the distribution and administration of water by public officials. In 1881, the legislature established the Office of the State Irrigation Engineer, known today as the State Engineer’s Office or the Division of Water Resources. In 1887 the legislature created a position called the superintendent of irrigation for each of the seven main river basins, or divisions, in the state. This position is now known as the Division Engineer.

For the first nearly 90 years of water administration by the state, water administration was restricted mainly to surface water. This changed in 1969 with the passage of the Water Rights Determination and Administration Act. This act required that groundwater be integrated with surface water into the prior appropriation system, and allowed the State Engineer to develop Rules and Regulations to administer groundwater use. In 1972, the State Engineer issued a moratorium on new wells in most parts of the San Luis Valley, and in 1981 that moratorium was expanded to prohibit new wells in all parts of Division 3. In 1975 the State Engineer developed groundwater rules for Division 3, the drainage basin of the Rio Grande. These rules stated that well owners had to replace the depletions due to their well pumping or they would be shut down. Obviously this threat of shutting down many wells in the San Luis Valley did not please the well owners, and a period of nearly 10 years of litigation ensued. In 1985, with an agreement between the parties to the lawsuit, the rules were dismissed . In their place the water users agreed that the Closed Basin Project would be used to offset the depletions to the rivers caused by the wells. The agreement worked fairly well until the late 1990’s and the drought years of the early 2000’s , when it was apparent that more formal regulation of groundwater was needed in Division 3.

One of the hurdles to groundwater regulation in the San Luis Valley has always been the lack of a good understanding of the aquifers and their interaction with the rivers and streams. In 1998 the legislature passed legislation that directed the State Engineer to begin a study of the aquifers of Division 3. This study became known as the Rio Grande Decision Support System (RGDSS), and is an ongoing study that has shed a great deal of light on the aquifers. In that same year the legislature also directed the State Engineer to begin developing rules to govern new withdrawals of water from the confined aquifer based upon information gathered from the RGDSS study. These rules were formally adopted by the State Engineer in 2004 and prevented any increased withdrawals of groundwater from the confined aquifer. After a lengthy trial in Alamosa, the rules were approved by Judge Kuenhold in November 2006. The ruling was appealed to the Colorado Supreme Court, and in 2008 the Supreme Court upheld the rules.

As part of the need to get more data on groundwater usage, the State Engineer established the well measurement rules in 2005. These rules require all large capacity wells, and some smaller wells, in Division 3 to be equipped with flow meters . The meter readings are collected a minimum of once per year and are being used to get a detailed description of the water use by well, and the total groundwater usage in the San Luis Valley . This is very important for the RGDSS model as well as for the impending groundwater rules.

In 2008 the State Engineer established an Advisory Committee in order to assist him in developing new groundwater use rules for existing groundwater uses. It is anticipated that these rules will be finalized this fall. Once the rules are in place, they will require that most large capacity wells in Division 3 replace their depletions to the streams and ensure that the aquifers remain sustainable. Owners that do not replace the depletions from the use of their wells and take steps to bring the aquifers back into a sustainable situation will have their wells shut down.

As water becomes a more and more precious commodity , there is need for increased administration of that water. This is to ensure that the water is being used by the people entitled to use it, that it is being used for its intended purpose, and that there is no injury to someone else’s water rights due to actions by another water user.

More Colorado Water Plan coverage here.


Glenwood Springs: How should Colorado prioritize economic benefits in the COWaterPlan?

September 13, 2014
Glenwood Springs via Wikipedia

Glenwood Springs via Wikipedia

From the Glenwood Springs Post Independent (John Stroud):

The importance of green lawns to maintain quality of life and urban home values was heard alongside that of maintaining river flows for the Western Slope’s recreation-based economy in comments to the Colorado Water Conservation Board Thursday.

“Back yards are our recreational amenity,” Mark Pifher of the Front Range Water Council said during testimony before the CWCB on the draft Colorado Water Plan in Glenwood Springs as part of a two-day meeting that continues today at the Hotel Colorado.

Pifher also took to task Winter Park real estate broker Dennis Saffell, who cited statistics from Grand County that suggest riverfront properties sell for 134 percent more than other types of residential property, and even properties with a view of a river are 24 percent more valuable.

“It’s really important to keep our rivers viable economically, not just for the recreational aspects but for the entire economy that supports our communities,” Saffell said. “Rivers create a lifestyle, attract tourists and attract the people that live here.”

But aggressive conservation measures aimed at limiting outdoor water use in Front Range cities can have the effect of lowering real estate values in those areas, countered Pifher, who pointed out that outdoor irrigation makes up only 4 percent of consumptive water use in the state, according to statistics referenced in the draft water plan.

Joe Stibrich, representing the city of Aurora Water Department, suggested that, just as anglers and whitewater enthusiasts expect the state’s water plan to preserve the recreation experience in the mountains, urban dwellers have a right to expect a “reasonable residential experience.”

That includes reasonably irrigated lawns, public parks and sports fields, and golf courses, he said.

Statewide conservation measures also need to be considered on equal footing with viable alternatives to meet Front Range water needs, including new supply development through future trans-mountain diversions, he said…

“Water utilities do recognize the importance of healthy rivers and ecosystems,” Stibrich said. “But it’s equally important to maintain an urban environment with healthy landscapes.”

The debate pointed up the difficult task before the CWCB to deliver on Gov. John Hickenlooper’s directive to present a statewide water plan by December that addresses the often divergent views between the Western Slope interests and those of Front Range communities.

The first-ever statewide water plan is intended to address a significant gap in the amount of water needed to meet growth projections, especially on the Front Range, and what’s now available through both in-basin and trans-basin diversions.

But a key goal is also to protect healthy river flows on the Western Slope, including in the Colorado River Basin where members of the basin roundtable have recommended a strong emphasis on conservation in the water plan, along with opposition to any new trans-mountain diversions.

At some point, “the line has to be drawn … enough is enough” when it comes to Front Range water diversions, said fishing guide Jack Bombardier, owner of Confluence Casting in Gypsum in his testimony before the water board.

Bombardier was part of a coalition of river recreation business owners and enthusiasts, along with conservation groups, who spoke during the Thursday session. The coalition cited a study that shows river-based recreation in Colorado generates $9 billion a year and is responsible for 80,000 jobs.

“We all have skin in the game,” Bombardier said. “But we’re approaching a crossroads. The whole western [Colorado] ecosystem and economy hinges on healthy rivers.”

Water Conservation Board member Patricia Wells, representing the city and county of Denver, said one of the state’s recreational amenities that is reliant on water is missing from the equation in reference to those statistics — golf courses.

She requested that golf be mentioned in the section of the water plan that addresses recreational and environmental projects.

Wells also challenged speaker Annie Henderson, representing the Upper Colorado Private Boaters Association in Glenwood Springs, when she made reference to “wasteful and irresponsible water use” in relation to the need for better conservation measures to help protect the Western Slope’s quality of life.

“Quality of life exists in urban areas too,” Wells said. “Different people use water in ways that are valuable to them.”

Here’s some video from KREXTV.

More Colorado Water Plan coverage here.


Coalition: Can State Water Plan Sustain Colorado Recreation Economy? — Public News Service #COWaterPlan

September 13, 2014
Big Wood Falls photo via American Whitewater (2011)

Big Wood Falls photo via American Whitewater (2011)

From the Public News Service (Tommy Hough/Chris Thomas):

Outdoor business leaders and conservationists are joining forces to urge Colorado to prioritize river-based recreation in the state’s upcoming water plan.

As the Colorado Water Conservation Board meets Friday [September 12, 2014] to discuss the first statewide water plan, the conservation and business coalition will press the state to rely on data collected around the Colorado River Basin to ensure enough water remains in rivers to sustain the region’s $12 billion recreation economy.

Nathan Fey, director of Colorado River stewardship programs at American Whitewater, said he thinks the draft plan fails to make some crucial connections.

“We’re not seeing the state water plan make that effort and really invest in improving our understanding of river health and recreational health,” he said.

Fey said he finds that missing connection odd, since the science on which his coalition bases its concerns isn’t anything new.

“There are nearly four decades of science that have been developed around how to define stream flows for recreation,” he said, “and to understand the relationship between flow and recreation quality.”

The state’s draft water plan currently includes major trans-mountain diversions, and a movement of water across the Rocky Mountains for the state’s thirsty Front Range cities such as Denver and Boulder. Fey predicted that moving water on a speculative basis would jeopardize the health of many of the state’s most beloved rivers without considering greater conservation measures as an option.

“We think that the water plan should prioritize conservation and other concepts like reuse and water sharing,” he said. “That is much more palatable than these new, large-scale projects that are divisive and really destroy our river systems.”

The same need to prioritize river health, Fey said, will be on the agenda for the regionwide Colorado River Basin Study, a major federal document that will impact western rivers for decades to come.

“What really needs to happen next, because it’s not just Colorado,” he said, “is our neighboring states in the basin make a concerted effort to identify how much water we need to keep in our rivers to sustain a recreation economy.”

According to Fey, outdoor recreation access and quality, along with overall environmental health, are among the top concerns of Colorado residents – and one of the key advantages for Front Range-area businesses in attracting new employees.

More Colorado Water Plan coverage here.


Glenwood Springs: #COWaterPlan update planned for afternoon session at today’s CWCB board meeting

September 11, 2014

From the Glenwood Springs Post Independent (John Stroud):

River recreation business owners and enthusiasts are expected to be out in force today as the Colorado Water Conservation Board meets in Glenwood Springs at the Hotel Colorado.

The afternoon session will include conversation about the upcoming draft statewide water plan, which is due out later this year at the direction of Gov. John Hickenlooper.

The water plan is the main agenda item from 1-5 p.m. Starting at 3:45 p.m., the board will hear an update on public input received to date from the state’s nine river basins, including from the Colorado River Basin Roundtable. The meeting is open to the public and will include a time for comments.

Meanwhile, boaters, rafters, anglers and other outdoor enthusiasts are gathering in conjunction with the meeting to highlight the economic value of Colorado’s rivers, and to try to ensure river flows are protected from new large trans-mountain water diversions.

The Colorado and other western basin roundtables are urging against including any new Front Range diversion projects in the water plan.

A coalition of business and conservation groups said in a Wednesday press release that they will emphasize the economic importance of Colorado’s river-based economy, which they say is greater than $9 billion annually and supports more than 80,000 jobs in the state…

Geoff Olson, co-owner and operator of Blue Sky Adventures in Glenwood Springs, said in the release that commercial river rafting alone in Colorado last year was worth about $150 million.

“We want the governor and the state water board to make smart, long-term decisions to protect our rivers and our livelihoods, and this huge part of Colorado’s economy,” said Olson, who employs 35 people during the height of the summer whitewater season…

“Colorado’s cities can easily conserve more water, and that will preserve flows for the river-based recreation that is so important to so many Coloradans,” said Annie Henderson, co-founder of the Upper Colorado Private Boaters Association, an American Whitewater affiliate.

Whitewater businesses have also emphasized the need to secure recreational in-stream flows, which is also included in the draft Colorado River Basin Implementation Plan.

The CWCB will continue its meetings Friday, and this morning is scheduled to meet with the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission, also at the Hotel Colorado.

Hayfield message to President Obama 2011 via Protect the Flows

Hayfield message to President Obama 2011 via Protect the Flows

Here’s the release from Protect the flows (Belinda Griswold):

Businesses in Colorado, including boaters, rafters, anglers and other outdoor enthusiasts, will be in Glenwood Springs tomorrow to highlight the economic value of Colorado’s rivers and to ensure river flows are protected from new large trans-mountain water diversions. The river supporters will share their experiences with the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB), which is holding a public board meeting Thursday and Friday at The Hotel Colorado.

At the executive order of Gov. John Hickenlooper, the CWCB is currently preparing the first-ever statewide water plan, which will determine how water is managed across Colorado now and for decades to come. Western Slope businesses – retailers, recreational outfitters and other outdoor-related companies – will emphasize the vast economic importance of Colorado’s river-based economy, which is greater than $9 billion annually and supports more than 80,000 jobs in the state. Water diversions, which are being debated during the CWCB board meeting, would significantly jeopardize this river economy.

“The economic impact of commercial river rafting in Colorado last year was about $150 million, and the Colorado River-based recreation industry as a whole added $9 billion to our state’s economy. For Blue Sky Adventures, we employ 35 people, all of whom depend on healthy rivers,” said Geoff Olson, co-owner and operator of Blue Sky Adventures in Glenwood Springs. “We want the governor and the state water board to make smart, long term decisions to protect our rivers and our livelihoods, and this huge part of Colorado’s economy.”

To protect Colorado’s $9 billion river economy, Colorado’s recreation-based leaders are encouraging the CWCB to ensure smart water management is included in the plan. In lieu of large, new trans-mountain diversions, these business want the CWCB to keep river flows at healthy levels by setting a statewide water conservation goal for the state’s cities and towns, something most other Western states have but Colorado is lacking.

“Colorado’s cities can easily conserve more water, and that will preserve flows for the river-based recreation that is so important to so many Coloradans,” said Annie Henderson, co-founder of the Upper Colorado Private Boaters Association, an American Whitewater affiliate. “If it’s going to be a Colorado water plan, it has to reflect Colorado values.”

Another way the CWCB can ensure ample water and support Colorado’s $9 billion river economy supply is by integrating the best recommendations for recreational flow, such as that proposed by the Colorado River Basin Implementation Plan, which called for a goal to protect water for recreational boating purposes.

“Our state’s recreation economy depends on healthy stream flows today,” said Nathan Fey, director of Colorado River Stewardship Program for American Whitewater. “These flows support existing businesses, jobs and local economies that rely on active outdoor recreation and tourism. Trans-mountain diversions are being proposed as a way to meet a future need – an unknown and speculative demand. The conversation about water supply at the state and local levels must be about the trade-offs between our needs today, and what our needs might be in the future.”

Adding to the direct economic boost rivers provide, Coloradans cherish their natural landscape including the rivers that provide opportunities for boating, rafting and fishing. Surveys of Colorado voters show that outdoor recreation is among the top values for residents. In addition, Front Range businesses report that outdoor recreation opportunities are key for attracting and retaining talented employees.

The supporters of healthy rivers plan to hold a press conference at Blue Sky Adventures’ offices (319 6th St, Glenwood Springs, CO 81601, at the Hotel Colorado) starting at approximately 12:00 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 11. In addition, several supporters are scheduled to speak later in the day at the CWCB board meeting including:

Speakers at the event will include representatives from outdoor recreation businesses, Protect the Flows, American Whitewater, and many more.

To learn more about Colorado’s statewide water plan, please visit http://wwww.waterforcolorado.org.

doloresriveraspens

From the Northwest Council of Governments:

Leaves are starting to change and work on the Water Plan is gearing up around the State. The Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) will be visiting the Colorado Basin this week, holding their board meeting in Glenwood Springs on Sept. 11-12. Part of their discussion will be a review of many draft sections of the Water Plan, released to the public by way of their board meeting agenda. We are anxious to jump into a review of those draft sections—we are encouraged and impressed with the amount of data the CWCB staff have already sifted through to complete these draft sections! We will keep you posted as well learn more.

Meanwhile, QQ has been reviewing the Basin Implementation Plans submitting from Basins around the State over the past month. As one might expect, many Basins agree with some foundational QQ Principles for the Water Plan, while others conflict with some of our primary points. We’ll keep working on a summary document that can help guide those who don’t have time to read the 1000s of pages of information!

Over the next several months, the CWCB will wrap up the first complete draft of Colorado’s Water Plan! This fall marks a crucial time for public input on the draft sections released already, as once this draft is completed the Plan will move to revisions in the Governor’s office and away from the hands of the CWCB. As always, you can provide comment at http://www.coloradowaterplan.org.

More CWCB coverage here.


9News series about #COwater and the #COWaterPlan — Mary Rodriguez

September 10, 2014


9News.com reporter Mary Rodriguez has embarked on a series about the Colorado Water Plan and water issues in Colorado. The first installment deals with Cheesman Dam and Reservoir. Here’s an excerpt:

It is something most of us take for granted: running water. Colorado is now beginning to grapple with how to keep the tap flowing, both now and in the future. As the state develops a water plan, set to be released in December, we are beginning a series of stories revolving around that precious resource…

Cheesman Reservoir and Dam

Nearly 7,000 feet above sea level, it’s a place of stillness and a quiet refuge. Yet, it’s also a place capable of wielding immense power.

Cheesman Reservoir is a major source of water for communities up and down the Front Range. It holds 25 billion gallons of water. That’s enough water to cover Sports Authority Field with a foot of water more than 79,000 times. All of it is held in place by the Cheesman Dam, which was built nearly 110 years ago.

“It was tremendous foresight that this reservoir has been pretty much unchanged in all that time,” documentary filmmaker Jim Havey of Havey Productions said.

The reservoir is just one of the places Havey is beginning to capture as part of an upcoming documentary called “The Great Divide.” The subject? Water.

“We looked at water, initially, as a great way to tell the story of Colorado,” he said.

Colorado’s water system is a complex combination of reservoirs, rivers and dams. As the state’s population has grown, though, there has been a greater need to come up with a water plan that can evolve with time.

“Really, it is all connected,” said Travis Thompson, spokesperson for Denver Water, which bought the Cheesman Reservoir nearly 100 years ago.

Denver Water– along with water municipalities and agencies across Colorado– is now working on a long-term plan for Colorado’s water. It includes, among other things, figuring out the best way to manage the state’s water as it flows between different river basins and whether or not to create more reservoirs.

“We’re not planning just for today, we’re planning for tomorrow– 25 years, 50 years down the road,” Thompson said. “And we have many challenges that we’re looking into, just like our forefathers had.”

Those challenges include how to provide enough water for people and industries in Colorado, as well as people in 18 other states– and even two states in Mexico– which also get their water from rivers that begin in Colorado.

“What the water plan is going to mean, I don’t think anybody knows yet,” Havey said.

Yet, it’s a plan that has a lot riding on it below the surface. The first draft of the state’s water plan is due in December and is expected to be presented to the state legislature next year. For more information about the water documentary, “The Great Divide,” go to http://bit.ly/1qDftUO.

More Denver Water coverage here. More South Platte River Basin coverage here. More Colorado Water Plan coverage here.


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