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.
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.
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.