#COWaterPlan tackles state water shortages — The Crested Butte News #ColoradoRiver

Crested Butte
Crested Butte

From The Crested Butte News (Alissa Johnson):

“The final version of the Colorado Water Plan adds more clarity as far as the position on trans-mountain diversions,” said local water expert Frank Kugel. As general manager for the Upper Gunnison River Water Conservancy District, Kugel said the plan makes it clear that, “The Front Range interests—if they pursue trans-mountain diversion—understand there’s not a firm supply. They would accept the risk of any project development that the water may not be there when they need it.”

In addition, Governor Hickenlooper made it clear that diverting more water across the mountains will be a last resort.

According to the Denver Post, Hickenlooper stated that if water conservation is ramped up, water is incorporated into land-use planning and reservoir construction is done right, “the diversion of more water across the mountains won’t be necessary.”[…]

Kugel says that’s a good thing for the Western Slope.

“The other aspects of the water plan that are favorable for our basin are that there are other proposals [besides trans-mountain diversion] for meeting the gap between supply and demand,” he said.

They include reuse projects for the Front Range, limits to the permanent drying up of agricultural lands, opportunities to lease water rights and temporary fallowing of farmlands.

“The plan is a step in the right direction as far as providing for the future of Western Slope water. We certainly need to remain vigilant to guarantee that the protections laid out in the plan are followed through, but there has been a great deal of good work done to solve future water problems,” Kugel continued.

The plan also outlines projects for the local water basin, including about 130 projects to deal with decreasing water supplies. According to Kugel, climate change studies project that on a local level, warmer temperatures will lead to increased evaporation and transpiration and in turn a 10 percent to 20 percent reduction in water supplies by the middle of the century.

Droughts and shortages experienced in 2002 and 2012 could become more commonplace. In 2002, diversions on the East River and the Slate River completely dried up.

The projects outlined in the water plan will look at water consumption and shortages as well as environmental and recreation concerns. Stream management plans for Ohio Creek and the East River are already under way. While the projected population growth on the Front Range makes its water problems most noticeable, Kugel says that meeting water demand is a statewide issue.

“The shortages are state-wide. In the coming decades there are more acute projects for the Front Range because of growth… making conservation and other methods and efficiency efforts more important there. But as citizens of Colorado we all have obligations to maximize the use of water.”

More information on the Colorado Water Plan is available at http://www.coloradowaterplan.com, including an executive summary.

Colorado Springs takes issue with “status quo” #COWaterPlan — the Colorado Springs Independent

From the Colorado Springs Independent (Pam Zubeck):

he state’s long-awaited water roadmap to assure adequate supplies decades into the future got a lot of coverage last week, with many cheering the plan…

But Colorado Springs Utilities’ managing engineer for water resource planning M. Patrick Wells, had harsh words for the plan.

In a Sept. 17 letter providing feedback on a draft version, Wells called the plan “a directionless recitation of guardrails without a road.”

The plan fails to establish a common vision for the state’s water supply future, and rather appears to be “a vehicle for managing growth,” he says.

The plan also lacks baselines against which to judge water development in the future, Wells says. For example, water projects have been labeled harmful in some cases for recreation and the environment. But the contrary is often true, he writes. “In many cases, water development has resulted in more reliable flows, improved habitat, better water quality, and improved recreation for key stream reaches versus pre-development conditions.”

Wells also objects to what he sees as the plan’s “anti-growth” and “anti-City” stance.

Utilities spokesman Steve Berry says the water plan won’t have a major impact on the city’s plans, mainly because it has “no teeth” in imposing costs on water users. But if the water plan dictates changes in how water is appropriated from the four rivers that originate in Colorado, that could affect Springs water users.

Berry says the city owns undeveloped water rights in both the Colorado River and Arkansas River basins. The Colorado River, which supplies eight states, including Colorado, and Mexico, could become a point of contention in coming years as water users look for other sources.

After the city failed to win approval of its second trans-mountain system, called Homestake II, in the 1990s, Utilities turned to developing its Arkansas River rights and built the $829-million Southern Delivery System pipeline from Pueblo Reservoir, which goes online next year.

Utilities officials, Berry says, don’t support a water plan that would impede the city from developing those rights. It’s worth noting that the new water plan doesn’t favor an additional trans-mountain water project to bring water from the Western Slope to the Front Range.

“We want to make sure through this water plan there are not unreasonable obstacles to developing our water rights in the future,” Berry says.

Lastly, Berry says Utilities is concerned the plan unduly emphasizes conservation. Through rates adopted amid drought conditions over the last decade, Utilities’ customers have dramatically cut usage — from 109 gallons per customer per day in 2006, to 85 gallons, he says. Of course CSU is in the business of selling water, and less usage could affect revenue.

Berry also notes Springs Utilities has long planned decades ahead for its water supply. SDS, for example, began in the 1990s.

Southern Delivery System route map -- Graphic / Reclamation
Southern Delivery System route map — Graphic / Reclamation

#COWaterPlan: Lots of ‘storage’ in water plan, but few ‘dams’ — Glenwood Springs Post Independent

Stagecoach Dam and Reservoir via the Applegate Group
Stagecoach Dam and Reservoir via the Applegate Group

From Aspen Journalism (Brent Gardner-Smith) via the Glenwood Springs Post Independent:

In the just-released Colorado Water Plan it’s rare to see the word “dam” used.

And yet, dams and reservoirs are at the core of Colorado’s water-supply systems, past, present and future.

The word “dam” does not appear at all, for example, in Chapter 10 of the water plan, which is the “Critical Action Plan” for the future of water supply in Colorado.

Instead of using “dam,” or “dams,” the state water plan, and most people at water meetings in Colorado, use the word “storage,” as in “water storage” or “storage project” to describe some type of structure that backs up and holds water.

In Chapter 10, where “dam” is ignored altogether, “storage” merits 14 uses.

In Chapter 6.5, the word “dam” is used just twice in the 30-page chapter about “infrastructure,” while “storage” is used over 160 times.

And in Chapter 4, “dam” is used 13 times, as one might expect in a chapter called “Water Supply.” But “storage” is used 71 times.

In a state like Colorado that can store 7.5 million acre-feet of water in 1,953 reservoirs — all formed by dams of some sort — the practice looks a bit like “dam” avoidance.

There are, however, a few instances in the water plan where “dam” or “dams” are used in a routine way.

“While new storage projects will certainly play a role in meeting the state’s water needs, the enlargement and rehabilitation of existing dams and reservoirs will provide more options for the path forward, as Ch. 4 discussed,” the plan states, for example, in Chapter 6.5.

In that context, the use of “dams and reservoirs” sounds appropriate, and not overly damning, one would suppose.

Here’s another example.

“While storage is a critical element for managing Colorado’s future water supplies, new storage projects may be contentious and face numerous hurdles, including permitting and funding,” the plan states in Chapter 4. “In many cases, it may be more practical and efficient to reallocate or enlarge an existing dam and reservoir than to build a completely new structure.”

Again, a seemingly innocuous use of “dam and reservoir,” which is to the plan’s credit, at least linguistically.

But “dam” is not a popular term in the water plan.

“Storage” is the preferred word.

In an op-ed piece in The Aspen Times on Nov. 23, Gary Wockner of Save the Colorado said the use of “storage” was “an Orwellian double-speak way of saying more dams, diversions and river destruction.”

Double-speak or not, “storage” is used a lot in the plan, including four times in the two sentences below, which describe the priorities of the Arkansas River basin.

“Storage is essential to meeting all of the basin’s consumptive, environmental, and recreational needs,” the plan states in Chapter 6.2. “In addition to traditional storage, aquifer storage and recovery must be considered and investigated as a future storage option.”

To be fair, the water plan does discuss, and promote, the idea of “aquifer storage,” which does not require dams. It requires pipes and pumps to store water underground, but not dams. So aquifer storage is “storage,” but without “dams.”


“Storage” was on the mind of Patti Wells during the Colorado Water Conservation Board meeting in Denver on Nov. 19, when she told her fellow board members that “words matter.”

Wells is general counsel of Denver Water and represents the South Platte River basin on the CWCB. She suggested that “storage” may have worn out its usefulness as a euphemism for “dam.”

“We keep saying storage and what that connotes for people is a big reservoir that takes the water out of the river and sends it down a pipe to a municipal treatment plant, and that’s what storage is,” Wells said. “But in fact, maybe we should call them ‘water management facilities.’

“Because as we all know, if you can store the water, you can manage the water,” Wells said. “And that may be for low-flow releases in the summer. That may be for a boat race through a whitewater park. So storage doesn’t just mean to meet the supply gap. It can also mean to meet all the other goals in the state water plan.”

Wells made her suggestion during the “basin directors’ report” section of the CWCB meeting, after the Colorado Water Plan had been approved and presented to the governor.

Earlier in his director’s report Russell George, who represents the Colorado River Basin on the CWCB, also said language was important in shaping perceptions about water, especially about “reuse” water.

“Because right now, when you’re having a conversation with anybody about reuse, it’s a negative,” George said, noting reuse was sometimes called “toilet to tap.”

“That sort of image isn’t helpful, but it’s real,” George said. “The idea is, let’s see if we can improve the tone of that conversation. I think we absolutely have to do that. It’s a cultural thing, and we know that reuse will increasingly be part of the solutions in the future, so we need to begin to change the language and the impact of language.”

“Reuse” water, by the way, is “water used more than once or recycled,” according to the WateReuse Association, which notes it is already a common municipal practice.


Other words with layered meanings are also used in the water plan, including “multipurpose,” “balanced” and “education.”

“Multipurpose,” as in “multipurpose projects,” has a halo over it and the water plan seems to suggest as long as a project is “multipurpose,” it’s good to go.

“Those projects and methods that intentionally target consumptive and nonconsumptive benefits are categorized as multipurpose,” states Chapter 6.5, with an emphasis on “multipurpose,” as if defining the term.

But a sentence in Chapter 4 says “multipurpose” projects “take into account multiple users and multiple benefits, and diverse interests become involved during the planning process.”

But that could describe almost any “storage” project in Colorado.

Then there is “balanced,” which is often used by Front Range water providers and seems to suggest the use of Western Slope water to help meet the state’s water demands.

In Chapter 6.5 for example, the plan says the “primary message” of the South Platte and Metro basin roundtables was support for “water supply solutions that were ‘pragmatic, balanced, and consistent with Colorado water law and property rights.”

Joe Stibrich, the water resources policy manager at Aurora Water, and a member of the Metro Basin roundtable, told the CWCB on Nov. 19 that ”the development of additional storage was also identified as an essential tool for implementing these balanced solutions.”

And Joe Frank, head of the S. Platte River Basin roundtable, told the CWCB that his roundtable wants to see “a balanced program to investigate, preserve and develop Colorado River supply options.”

“Education” is another heavily used word in the water sector. Sometimes “education” means teaching students about water. But often it means “public relations.”

“Education” often is combined with “outreach” in the water plan, as in Chapter 9.5, which is called “Outreach, Education and Public Engagement.”

“‘Outreach’ creates public awareness of policies and processes, whereas ‘education’ promotes a deeper understanding of these topics,” the water plan states. “Both are prerequisites to ‘public engagement.’”

The word “public relations,” however, is not used in the chapter about “Outreach, Education and Public Engagement.”

But that doesn’t mean PR is absent from the plan, it’s just called “outreach and education activities.”

“With completion of the basin implementation plans and Colorado’s Water Plan in 2015, it will be imperative that the Colorado water community sustain momentum for outreach and education activities, and that funding for such activities increase as the community implements water supply solutions,” the plan states in Chapter 9.5.

Aspen Journalism is collaborating with The Aspen Times and the Glenwood Springs Post Independent on the coverage of rivers and waters. More at http://www.aspenjournalism.org.

#Drought news: The November 2015 drought update is hot off the presses from the CWCB

Click here to read the update:

Following a very warm and dry start to the fall, November to-date has seen more seasonal temperatures west of the divide and increased precipitation on the west slope and northeastern plains. This has helped to alleviate abnormally dry conditions over parts of the state. Storage levels in some basins are at the highest levels since the turn of the 21st century and water providers have no immediate concerns going into the snow accumulation season.

  • September ended water year (WY) 2015 well above average for temperature across Colorado, ranking as the warmest September on record. The start of WY 2016 began much the same with October ranking the 3rd warmest on record. Both months saw average temperatures more than 50F above the long term monthly average, setting the state up to see the warmest three month September/October/ November period on record.
  • Overall precipitation during the October 2014- September 2015 water year was above average and the wettest water year since WY1999. Evapotranspiration rates were also some of the lowest recorded, since record keeping began 23 years ago.
  • Statewide water year-to-date precipitation is near average across most of the state. Recent storms resulted in increases in many basins including the basins of the southwest, Upper Rio Grande, Gunnison, Upper Colorado and South Platte which are all above average for the water year to-date at 140, 105, 113, 110 and 121 percent of average, respectively.
  • Reservoir Storage statewide is at 109 percent of average as of November 1st . The Arkansas basin has the highest storage levels in the state at 132 percent of average; this is the highest reservoir levels have been in the Arkansas in more than 15 years.
  • The Upper Rio Grande has the lowest storage levels at 87percent of average; this is also the only basin with below average storage. However, the Rio Grande levels are 28 percent greater now than this time last year and the highest they have been since 2009.
  • The Surface Water Supply Index (SWSI) is highly variable across the state with sub-basins ranging from extremely dry to extremely wet. At this time of year the index reflects reservoir storage, which is largely above normal statewide, streamflow forecasts will be incorporated into the index beginning in January.
  • El Niño conditions remain strong, and are projected to continue into early spring. Strong events do not favor increased precipitation during the winter months in the central and northern mountains of Colorado, as storm tracks tend to move in a more southerly pattern. However, the likelihood of good spring snowfall in this region is better, especially along the Front Range. The best combination would be for the El Niño to weaken over the winter, and then come back strong in spring.


Colorado Drought Monitor November 10, 2015
Colorado Drought Monitor November 10, 2015

#COWaterPlan is Historic Step Forward — San Juan Citizens Alliance

From the San Juan Citizens Alliance via the Pagosa Daily Post:

Colorado’s leading conservation and recreation organizations American Rivers, American Whitewater, Audubon, Conservation Colorado, Environmental Defense Fund, High Country Conservation Advocates, San Juan Citizens Alliance and Western Resource Advocates agree that Colorado’s first-ever water plan is an important step forward for the state in terms of future water management.

The final plan reflects Coloradans’ values made clear in 30,000 public comments that revealed overwhelming support for conserving water in our cities and towns, protecting rivers and promoting a strong river-­based recreation economy.

These conservation groups agree the plan will help protect Colorado’s $9 billion recreation and outdoor economy, our vital agricultural communities, and the birds and wildlife that depend upon healthy rivers for survival, while also helping to preserve our Western way of life. Specifically the groups applaud the fact the plan makes important progress in securing Colorado’s water future by:

  • Setting the first-­ever state wide water conservation targets for cities and towns, prioritizing water conservation as never before
  • Helping preserve and restore our rivers by proposing annual funding for healthy rivers, which will create ongoing and unprecedented financial support for river assessments and restoration
  • Making new, costly and controversial large trans-­‐mountain diversions, which harm rivers and local communities, much less likely
  • Together, these groups express optimism about the plan’s overall direction, and are committed to the implementation process. The groups emphasize that the plan will not be valuable without action from Colorado’s leaders to implement it.

    Meeting all of Colorado’s water needs will require implementation and action in the same spirit of collaboration, flexibility and innovation that was shown in producing the plan. The groups will work with Governor Hickenlooper and the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) to protect Colorado’s environment by strengthening the water project evaluation criteria so the state engages only in those efforts that are cost-­‐effective and have support from local communities. The groups look forward to collaborating with the state, water utilities, irrigators, the business community and others to adhere to and execute the plan and protect water for future generations.

    Overall Colorado’s conservation experts agree the state is taking historic steps in the right direction by ensuring Colorado increases water conservation and recycling, keeps rivers healthy and flowing, and avoids new large trans-mountain diversions.

    “The plan provides ample water for fast-­growing Front Range cities, while recognizing the importance of protecting what makes Colorado special: gold-­medal streams, flowing Rocky Mountain rivers, healthy western slope communities, and abundant wildlife. It’s clear that Coloradans value what our state has to offer and we are optimistic the plan will provide a down-­payment for protecting healthy rivers and streams across the state. Now we have to get to work.”
    — Matt Rice, Director of Colorado River Basin Programs, American Rivers

    “We commend the CWCB and the Basin roundtables for ensuring actions to protect Colorado’s river systems and river-­dependent recreation are incorporated into the plan. These critical actions need funding, stakeholder input, technical consultation and study as we manage water for the future and ensure that our recreation industry and whitewater rivers are world-­class.”
    — Nathan Fey, Director Colorado River Stewardship Program, American Whitewater

    “The plan addresses the importance of preserving and restoring our rivers’ and steams’ environmental resiliency. Recognizing we still need more information and action to achieve that goal, the plan recommends that Colorado invest in stream protection and restoration. By 2030, the plan has a strong goal that 80 percent of a priority list of Colorado’s rivers and streams will have stream management plans.”
    — Abby Burk, Western Rivers Outreach Specialist, Audubon Rockies

    “Coloradans overwhelmingly support water conservation, and we are pleased to see this plan proposing our state’s first ever urban conservation goal. The plan recognizes that to meet our future water needs we must change the status quo from focusing on new, large trans-­mountain diversions to prioritizing conservation, reuse and recycling. We look forward to the Governor moving forward and carrying out our state’s water plan to better protect our rivers and wildlife.”
    — Theresa Conley, Water Advocate, Conservation Colorado

    “Colorado is taking an historic step in the right direction with this first water plan. Meeting all of Colorado’s water needs moving forward will require implementation and action in the same spirit of collaboration, flexibility and innovation that was shown in producing the plan.”
    — Brian Jackson, Associate Director, Environmental Defense Fund

    “We commend the Governor and CWCB for committing to water conservation in such a commonsense manner. Making better use of the water we already have is the cheapest, fastest and most flexible way to meet new demands – it’s just a no-­brainer.”
    — Bart Miller, Water Policy Director, Western Resource Advocates

    The San Juan Citizens Alliance advocates for clean air, pure water, and health lands – the foundations of resilient communities, ecosystems and economies in the San Juan Basin. For more information, visit our website at http://sanjuancitizens.org

    James Eklund and Governor Hickenlooper roll out the Colorado Water Plan, Thursday, November 19, 2015 via The Colorado Independent
    James Eklund and Governor Hickenlooper roll out the Colorado Water Plan, Thursday, November 19, 2015 via The Colorado Independent

    Hickenlooper accepts water #COWaterPlan, downplays diversions — Aspen Journalism

    Photo via Brent Gardner-Smith/Aspen journalism
    Photo via Brent Gardner-Smith/Aspen journalism

    From Aspen Journalism (Brent Gardner-Smith):

    After accepting Colorado’s first-ever water plan at a press conference in Denver on Thursday, Gov. John Hickenlooper downplayed the prospect of future transmountain diversions of water from the Western Slope to the Front Range.

    “What comes through loud and clear again and again in that water plan is that there ought to be ways to make sure that we have sufficient water to satisfy the growth along the Front Range without diverting the water across the mountains,” Hickenlooper said.

    The need for more water from Western Slope rivers to meet growing population needs between Fort Collins and Pueblo has dominated much of the discussion among various river-basin roundtables in Colorado over the last two years as the water plan was developed.

    Colorado has more than 25 such transmountain diversions in place today, including in the headwaters of the Colorado, Roaring Fork and Fryingpan rivers, and up to 600,000 acre-feet can be moved east in a given year.

    But a number of Front Range water providers want to leave the option for more Western Slope water to meet their increasing demands, as they see the continued “buy and dry” of ag lands in eastern Colorado as the otherwise “default solution.”

    “There is nothing in here that is trying to take someone’s private property or saying they can’t do this or can’t do that,” Hickenlooper said about potential future diversions. “But what we are trying to do is create a system where that is the last possible use and in most cases, if we are successful in going through this water plan, will not be necessary. We’ve addressed storage, conservation, you go down the list of all the approaches here, our goal from the very beginning was trying to make sure that where the water is, the water stays, but within the realm of the legal system that we operate in.”

    The governor’s remarks seemed to please representatives from American Rivers and Western Slope Resources on Thursday, as they sent tweets quickly noting the governor’s take on diversions.



    Differing views

    Thursday’s press conference came during a break in a regular meeting of the Colorado Water Conservation Board, which is charged with managing the state’s water supply and whose staff has worked intensely hard on developing the water plan, which was due on the governor’s desk by Dec. 10.

    At the CWCB meeting after the press conference, Joe Stibrich, the water resources policy manager of Aurora Water, and a member of the Metro basin roundtable, offered to the board members a different take on the future than the governor, and did so through something of a manifesto from Front Range water interests.

    “I’ve had the privilege of working with CWCB staff, and other roundtable and other Interbasin Compact Committee members, in the collaborative, and I’d say often spirited, discussions that has lead to Colorado’s Water Plan,” Stibrich said. “These discussions have taken place since 2005 over the course of literally hundreds of meetings.

    “And I believe these discussions have lead me, and I hope the other participants, to a deeper understanding of the water-related needs for all river basins and for all beneficial uses of Colorado’s water resources, and also the solutions to address those needs.

    “The Metro roundtable represents water interests in the Denver metro area, but within the S. Platte basin. While those interests are predominantly municipal and industrial, or M&I, our membership also includes agricultural, environmental, recreational and other interests. This has given us the opportunity to learn from each other and work toward common goals.

    “Once development of the basin implementation plans began as part of the roundtable role in Colorado’s Water Plan, the Metro and S. Platte realized that a basin implementation plan (BIP) for the combined roundtables and the entire S. Platte basin made sense, as we had many common interests and that successfully meeting the needs of the basin could only occur if we worked together.

    “We especially recognized that without a unified BIP, agricultural buy and dry would continue as the default solution to addressing the basin’s M&I gap. The S. Platte BIP identified areas of focus whose successful completion will be integral to meeting the basin’s gap and ensuring that Colorado’s future needs are met.

    “These are predicated on finding balanced solutions that equally promote conservation and resource, development of identified projects and processes, agricultural transfers, and preserving the ability to utilize Colorado’s entitlement under the Colorado River compact for the benefit of entire state. The development of additional storage was also identified as an essential tool for implementing these balanced solutions.

    “The Metro roundtable will concentrate its future efforts on implementing its BIP, prioritizing balanced solutions. And in doing so, we fully expect to continue working collaboratively with the S . Platte basin roundtable.

    “The IBCC offered us all an opportunity to identify issues and concerns that went beyond geographic and political borders. We openly discussed potential solutions, identified no-and-low regret alternatives that should be pursued in the interest of the state, and explored and developed the framework for exploring and discussing the potential development of future transbasin diversions.

    “Frankly, the members of the IBCC faced criticism among many members of their respective roundtables, with many believing that their representatives went to far in implying any agreement to this framework. But I believe the framework is an important piece of the plan. It protects the ability of the state to develop our compact entitlement on the Colorado River, providing a balanced approach to meeting the state’s overall needs.

    “We obviously still have many challenges ahead. While the plan provides an overall approach to move forward, we need to recognize that the many and varied water interests in this state will not stand still waiting for someone else to address their futures.

    “For example, buy and dry is still the least expensive and only viable option for many smaller water providers, and without additional help from others, including support from the state, they will continue as they have in the past.

    “Another challenge we face is meeting the M&I gap in a meaningful way, while recognizing the vital importance of preserving the quality of life associated with the urban landscape.

    “Benefits from urban landscape range from better air, surface water and groundwater quality … providing surfaces for leisure activities, to enhanced aesthetics and improved mental health. Solutions that compromise the valuable contributions of these benefits to our local and state economy need to be considered cautiously.

    “Slow but significant progress was made by the IBCC and basin roundtables since the year 2005. Frankly, I think this was set back some by the deadlines imposed by the executive order to develop Colorado’s Water Plan in a short time frame. And it caused many of the parties to pull back to earlier positions that were more directed toward protecting their own interests rather than moving forward with collaborative solutions.

    “The plan did force us all to realize that we have a way to go to truly address the state’s need on a statewide basis. But now that the plan is final, I believe we can now move forward again with the cooperation and support of the state to develop and implement solutions using the plan as a guide that will address Colorado’s needs,’ Stibrich said.

    The goal of “preserving the ability to use Colorado’s entitlement under the Colorado River Compact to the benefit of the entire state” is one way referencing the future ability to use more Western Slope water on the Front Range.

    And Joe Frank, the chair of the S. Platte River basin roundtable, told the CWCB board that members of the S. Platte and Metro roundtables wanted to see “a balanced program to investigate, preserve and develop Colorado River supply options.”

    “We truly believe that we need to solve our issues not just as a basin, not just as a Metro and S. Platte basin, but collectively as a state,” Frank said. “We take an “all-of-the-above approach,” he added, “including storage, which we believe holds all of the other solutions together.”


    Now go to work

    While the publication of the Colorado Water Plan clearly did not end the conversation about the possibility of moving more water to the Front Range, the plan does list eight primary goals, or “measurable outcomes,” that give something for every water professional in Colorado to work on.

    “Now we all share the responsibilities of implementation,” Hickenlooper told the crowd of over 100 people gathered on Thursday at History Colorado for the release of the plan.

    A screenshot from the website for Colorado's Water Plan.
    A screenshot from the website for Colorado’s Water Plan.

    The top goal is eliminating a projected 560,000-acre-foot gap between water supply and demand, and doing so in large measure by setting a goal of “400,000 acre-feet of municipal and industrial water conservation by 2050.”

    The plan also calls for the development of 400,000 acre-feet of water storage, saying “Colorado must also develop additional storage to meet growing needs and face the changing climate.”

    Another goal, relating to land use, is that “by 2025, 75 percent of Coloradans will live in communities that have incorporated water-saving actions into land-use planning.”

    The plan also includes an environmental goal to “cover 80 percent of the locally prioritized lists of rivers with stream management plans, and 80 percent of critical watersheds with watershed protection plans, all by 2030.”

    And it seeks to “investigate options to raise additional revenue in the amount of $100 million annually” in order to help pay for new water projects.

    Editor’s note: Aspen Journalism is collaborating the Glenwood Springs Post Independent and The Aspen Times on coverage of rivers and water in Colorado. The Times and the Post Independent published this story on Friday, Nov. 20, 2014.