@CWCB_DNR #COWaterPlan update now online

Colorado Water Plan website screen shot November 1, 2013
Colorado Water Plan website screen shot November 1, 2013

Click here to read the document:

Colorado’s Water Plan sets forth the measurable objectives, goals, and critical actions needed to ensure that Colorado can maintain our state’s values into the future. This is an update on implementation progress.

SUPPLY DEMAND GAP

  • Reducing the supply and demand gap is ultimately tied to actions in conservation, storage, land use, and ATMs. Updating the Statewide Water Supply Initiative (SWSI) to provide accurate and current technical information for many of these efforts is fundamental to success. The SWSI update process kicked off July 2016.
  • The CWCB and the IBCC are working to revise the Water Supply Reserve Fund criteria and guidelines to explicitly link funding requests to the goals and measureable outcomes identified in the Basin Implementation Plans and Colorado’s Water Plan. This will ensure that our funding decisions are congruent with the goals of Colorado’s Water Plan. Draft criteria and guidelines were presented to the CWCB Board in July and the IBCC in August. Final criteria and guidelines will be presented to the CWCB Board for approval in November.
  • STORAGE

  • The CWCB is financially supporting a variety of storage efforts and innovations, including a study of storage options in the South Platte (required under HB 16- 1256), exploring groundwater storage technology, and conducting a spillway analysis to identify existing storage that could be expanded.
  • Earlier this year, state and federal partners, as well as community stakeholders, completed a Lean event on the water project permitting process. The Lean team is focused on implementing its recommendations to streamline the permitting process while maintaining rigorous environmental protection.
  • CONSERVATION AND LAND USE

  • The CWCB is developing a variety of trainings that will be held over the next couple of years for local governments, utilities, and land use planners to increase water-saving actions and the integration of land use and water planning. The first of the trainings focused on “Breaking Down Silos: Integrating Water into Land Use Planning Webinar Series” was held on September 13th. There were over 100 participants in the webinar. There will be two other webinars and a train-the- trainer session over the next few months.
  • For the Colorado Water and Growth Dialogue, the second exploratory scenario planning workshop was held in July 2016. The Keystone Policy center is working with Denver Water, Aurora Water, and the Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG) to model the data to quantify the future scenarios.
  • The CWCB is looking at lessons learned from the legislation on indoor watersense fixtures to inform the legislation on outdoor watersense requirements called for in the plan.
  • AGRICULTURE

  • The CWCB and IBCC are hosting an Ag Viability Summit in partnership with the Colorado Ag Water Alliance (CAWA) on November 29. The agenda will include discussions about how to encourage regional planning for system-wide conservation and fleshing out the needs for an ag viability grant program.
  • The CWCB is participating in a workshop at CU on meeting the Alternative Ag Transfer Mechanisms (ATM) goal in Colorado’s Water Plan on October 7th. Discussions will include creative ways to support and facilitate ATM projects. CAWA, the Ditch & Reservoir Company Association, and Colorado Cattlemen’s Association have also been working on ATM education and development.
  • The Arkansas Basin pilot water sharing project with Catlin Canal is in its second year with favorable results that suggest statutory changes aimed at incenting alternatives to buy-and-dry transactions.
  • WATERSHED HEALTH, ENVIRONMENT & RECREATION

  • We are looking at providing an additional $5 million (through the CWCB funding plan) to the Watershed Restoration Program to work with roundtables and stakeholder groups to develop watershed restoration and stream management plans and projects for the priority streams identified in Basin Implementation Plans (BIPs) and other watershed planning documents.
  • The CWCB helped put on workshops at the Colorado Water Congress summer conference in August 2016 on Stream Management Plans: what they are and how to develop one. Another workshop will be hosted on Tuesday, October 11th at the Sustaining Colorado Watersheds conference.
  • The CWCB will be including climate change impacts in the SWSI update.
  • EDUCATION

  • The CWCB is working with the Colorado Foundation for Water Education and the One World One Water Center at Metro State University of Denver to develop a proposal for a Water Education Assessment to improve long-term water education program evaluation, identify gaps in water education, and develop case studies of successful programs and best practices to share statewide. The assessment will help align funding with educational priorities statewide.
  • The CWCB created an e-newsletter to update stakeholders on Colorado’s Water Plan implementation and the work of the CWCB Board and staff, IBCC, basin roundtables, and local communities. The next issue will go out the first week of October.
  • INNOVATION

  • The CWCB is working to connect with and create partnerships with the innovation community, including the Colorado Innovation Network (COIN) and Something Independent, to create pathways for the private sector and the water community to work together to tackle the state’s water challenges and focus on innovating with water data.
  • FUNDING

  • Funding is critical to many of our implementation efforts. The CWCB will continue to align funding decisions with Colorado’s Water Plan. We are developing a 3-5 year funding plan that will create a repayment guarantee fund, bolster the WSRF program, and support several education, conservation, reuse, and agricultural viability actions called for in the plan. The following funding plan is being developed by the CWCB staff, which will seek approvals from the CWCB Board and the legislature through the annual project’s bill, to kick-start water funding for plan implementation:
  • o a one-time investment of up to $50 million (as available) into a repayment guarantee fund;
    o an annual transfer of $10 million for the Water Supply Reserve Fund;
    o an annual transfer of $5 million for the Watershed Restoration Program;
    o and an annual transfer of $10 million for additional non-reimbursable CWCB programming to implement Colorado’s Water Plan.

    USE OF $5 MILLION FROM 2016 PROJECTS BILL

    Of the $5 million transferred in the 2016 Projects Bill to assist in the implementation of Colorado’s Water Plan, staff is recommending the following approximate amounts to the Board for appropriation in 2017:

    $1 million will support efforts with watershed-level flood and drought planning and response;
    $.5 million for grants to provide technical assistance to irrigators for assistance with federal cost-sharing improvement programs;
    $1.2 million for water forecasting and measuring efforts;
    $1.3 million to update reuse regulations as well as to fund a training program for local water providers to better understand AWWA’s methodology for water loss control; and
    $1 million to support the Alternative Agricultural Water Transfer Methods Grant Program.

    Enviros keeping eye on #COWaterPlan follow-up — Glenwood Springs Post Independent

    The Colorado Water Conservation Board, after unveiling the Colorado Water Plan in Denver in November 2015. The board includes eight voting members from river basins in Colorado and one voting member from the city and county of Denver. Russ George, far left, represents the Colorado River basin.
    The Colorado Water Conservation Board, after unveiling the Colorado Water Plan in Denver in November 2015. The board includes eight voting members from river basins in Colorado and one voting member from the city and county of Denver. Russ George, far left, represents the Colorado River basin.

    From the Glenwood Springs Post Independent (John Stroud):

    Nine months after the much-heralded release of the Colorado Water Plan, conservation groups are watching closely to see that the plan’s water conservation goals are being adequately funded and implemented.

    “The plan is only as good as how it gets put into place and gets applied throughout the different basins,” Bart Miller, Healthy Rivers Program director for Western Resource Advocates, said in a recent interview with the Post Independent.

    A key step in that process comes this week as the Colorado Water Conservation Board holds its bimonthly meeting in Edwards at the Lodge and Spa at Cordillera.

    Today, the Board Finance Committee meets to take a look at the finances for CWCB activities over the coming year, including implementation of the various elements of the water plan through the remainder of this year. Board members will also be taking a tour of Deep Creek near Dotsero, which has been deemed suitable for federal Wild and Scenic designation.

    On the agenda for the regular board meeting Wednesday and Thursday will be a range of topics including a strategic planning session, reports from the directors of the nine river basins and, to start things off at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, a progress report on the steps taken since last November when the water plan was first presented to the CWCB. Included as part of that discussion will be an update on the “vision, timeline and status” of the Statewide Water Supply Initiative, which is a key aspect of the water plan.

    “The urgency for having this plan in place for Colorado is every bit as strong as when the plan was written,” Miller said of the multi-year planning effort that led to the release of the water plan by Gov. John Hickenlooper last December.

    Already, the state population has grown by another 100,000 people over the past year and is expected to double to nearly 10 million people by 2050, Miller noted.

    “Drought remains an issue in Colorado and around the west, and some of the very reasons for the plan coming into being are even more pronounced,” he said.

    Among the key conservation provisions in the plan was to achieve a savings in Front Range urban water usage of 400,000 acre feet of water and establishing stream management plans for most of the priority rivers in the state.

    “In particular streams, the objective was to identify what the problems are with that stream, and to lay out options,” Miller said. “That’s an important first step in figuring out what the rivers need for long-term health.”

    Theresa Conley of Conservation Colorado said it comes down to securing implementation funding for those stream management plans to be developed.

    Initial funding for the water plan was the “darling bill” of the last state legislative session, but it was just the beginning, Conley said.

    The state Legislature earlier this year allocated $5 million for plan implementation in 2016. But it’s estimated some $175 million will be needed over the next five years to truly implement different aspects of the water plan, she emphasized. Especially as drought conditions worsen in the Colorado River Basin downstream from Colorado, the conservation measures built into the water plan intended to stave off more Front Range water diversion projects become even more critical, Conley said.

    “There has been some progress with implementation, but there’s not a lot happening yet with the conservation goals,” Conley said. “It has not moved forward with the gusto that we would like to see.

    “The more we plan now, the better off we will be able to respond to crises,” she said.

    Local measures such as water sharing between different types of users and water recycling projects go a long way toward that effort, she added.

    Miller also added that much work still needs to be done regarding the conceptual framework for new transmountain diversion projects that was a big part of the water plan.

    “There needs to be a lot more scrutiny for those types of proposals, and criteria for when the state would fund any project proposals,” he said. “A lot of this will be decided very soon, and it could end up being a very good year for the plan next year if the budget gets approved, and if certain criteria get applied to that funding.”

    @ColoradoWater annual seminar recap

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

    From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Gary Harmon):

    If Colorado’s state water plan is to keep the headwaters state in control of its lifeblood, the plan will require a new spring of cash to replace one that is running dry, officials said Friday.

    Where the money will come from — and ideas run from mill levies to sales taxes to tap fees to usage fees — isn’t clear, state Rep. Don Coram, R-Montrose, said at the Colorado River Water Conservation District’s annual seminar at Two Rivers Convention Center.

    The state’s severance tax was anticipated to be a major source of revenue for the water plan, which was drafted to encourage water conservation as well as pay for water storage.

    Severance taxes, however, have shrunk as oil and gas revenues have fallen in the face of dropping prices and as coal production has slipped.

    The plan has twin goals of conserving 400,000 acre-feet of water while also storing an equal amount by 2030, when the state would otherwise come 560,000 acre-feet short of the expected demands of residents and businesses…

    Coram said he floated the idea of charging 25 cents per 1,000 gallons of water on delivery to homes and businesses, to get people talking.

    “I don’t know what the answer is, but I know doing nothing is not going to get things done,” Coram said.

    Early projections called for the state severance tax to account for $3 billion, but that reservoir of cash is unlikely to refill soon, said James Eklund, executive director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board, which drafted the water plan and is charged with carrying it out.

    It could take two to four years to determine how best to fund the plan, Coram said.

    “We’re moving forward as aggressively as possible to implement this plan,” Eklund said.

    Among the water plan priorities for the coming year are establishing a repayment guarantee fund with $50 million as needed to underwrite water projects; $10 million for the water supply reserve fund; $10 million for programming for the water plan and $5 million for the watershed restoration program.

    From the Glenwood Springs Post Independent (Ryan Summerlin):

    The common denominator among speakers at the Colorado River District’s annual seminar Friday was that stakeholders have an uphill battle to protect the river. The effects of climate change coupled with demand outpacing supply are continuing to leave water rights holders in a pickle — draining every drop of water before the Colorado reaches its mouth.

    The Colorado River Basin is in its 16th year of drought, which ultimately hampers water supply, hydroelectric power, recreation and the basin’s ecology.

    Jeff Lukas, an research integration specialist with Western Water Assessment, outlined the growing impacts of climate change on the Upper Colorado River Basin, comparing the basin’s temperatures, precipitation and runoff during other periods of record heat. Some of the key climate change risks for Colorado are reduced annual runoff, earlier runoff, degraded water quality, greater water demand and more frequent droughts, according to Lukas.

    Many people are seeing a decrease in runoff for a given amount of precipitation, which Lukas links to warmer temperatures.

    About 75 percent of precipitation goes back into the atmosphere, and the bulk of streamflow happens during a narrow window of time, about 80 percent occurring between April and July, he said. Rising temperatures indicate that this trend of decreased streamflow will continue.

    Record warm years earlier in the 20th century were also very dry, but now the basin is seeing record heat in wet years as well, said Lukas. And the Colorado River Basin is more sensitive to warming than other basins.

    Warming also leads to earlier snowmelt and runoff, less snow accumulation and declines in runoff, said Lukas.

    Lukas expects rising temperatures to result in increased water consumption and stress on the water supply and rights holders.

    Other speakers representing the Colorado River District, farmers and lower basin entities that manage river water distribution presented various efforts to combat anticipated shortfalls.

    Farming Ag water? 2016 Ag Water Right Holder Survey Results Summary — ColoradoCattle.org

    montezumatunnel

    Click here to read the summary. Here’s an excerpt:

    Background

    The Colorado Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) and Partners for Western Conservation (PWC) initiated the Ag Water Network in late 2015 with the objective of helping to ‘keep ag water connected with ag land.’ The Ag Water Network is partially funded by a Walton Family Foundation grant.

    The state water plan, released in November, 2015, estimated Colorado’s population could swell to 10 million people by 2050, nearly doubling our current population of 5.4 million. The plan projects that the demand for water driven by the increasing population could result in a municipal and industrial water supply gap of 560,000 acre-feet. Statewide, this could result in the loss of 700,000 irrigated acres by 2050 through the purchase and transfer of water rights from irrigated agriculture to urban areas. Such large-scale dry-up of irrigated agriculture would have permanent adverse economic, environmental and food security impacts.

    The water plan acknowledges the economic, environmental and cultural value of Colorado’s agriculture industry. To minimize ‘buy and dry’ of irrigated farmland, the plan emphasizes water conservation, increased storage, and alternative agricultural transfer methods (ag water leases) as the primary means for closing the projected water supply-demand gap.

    Rotational fallowing, deficit irrigation, and planting lower consumptive use crops are the main practices being used and/or tested for “creating” consumptive use water that would otherwise have been used by crops. Consumptive use (CU) water is water retained by the growing plant plus the amount lost through evapotranspiration.

    The consumptive use (CU) water can be leased to municipal, industrial, recreational, environmental or agricultural interests provided the lease complies with state water law. All alternative ag transfers, or “ag water sharing” agreements must be voluntary, temporary and compensated. A variety of state laws have been passed over the last decade to ensure that a participating landowner’s water right(s) are not negatively impacted as long as the terms of the lease agreement comply with state law. Ag water leasing represents a sustainable approach that enables irrigated land to stay in production, albeit at a reduced output level, while helping supply water for other uses.

    Ag water leasing is a new concept to most Colorado ag producers. The purpose of the ag water survey was to assess the level of knowledge of ag water right holders throughout the state regarding water leasing terms and concepts, and determine ag water right holder perspectives, concerns and interest related to leasing.

    The survey was initiated February 26th, 2016 and closed on July 15, 2016, and received more than 300 responses. The first question – “do you own or lease ag water rights?” – was answered “no” by 51 respondents, leaving 266 respondents that said they own or lease agricultural water rights. The survey contained 25 background and water-related questions as well as a section at the conclusion which allowed respondents to leave comments or ask questions. All 25 survey questions are listed in the Appendix .

    Agriculture plays key role in #COWaterPlan — Montrose Daily Press

    Governor Hickenlooper, John Salazar and John Stulp at the 2012 Drought Conference
    Governor Hickenlooper, John Salazar and John Stulp at the 2012 Drought Conference

    From The Montrose Daily Press (Katharhynn Heidelberg):

    The state’s population is growing. Its water supply is not.

    This reality is the driving force behind the Colorado Water Plan, which aims to conserve what we have against a 560,000 acre-feet gap between supply and demand projected by 2030.

    “That’s water that has to come from somewhere else,” John Stulp, director of the Inter Basin Compact Commission, said Thursday. “ … most likely, from agriculture and the Western Slope. We’re trying to avoid that.”

    Stulp, who is also a special advisor to Gov. John Hickenlooper and a rancher, was in Montrose for the Uncompahgre Valley Water Forum, hosted by the Shavano Conservation District.

    Stulp addressed how agriculture fits into the Colorado Water Plan. Agriculture “has the preponderance” of first use of water in the state — about 80 percent of Colorado water use begins in agriculture, he said.

    The plan’s measurable outcomes address the projected supply-demand gap by 2030, plus the conservation goal of 400,00 acre-feet per year by 2050. Colorado is expected to add 5 million people in the coming decades, a number that includes native-born residents.

    Conservation must be done on all levels, not just in agriculture, Stulp said, but also industrial and municipal.

    “That, in itself, can provide a lot of water,” he said. Denver Water, for example, is using the same amount of water as it did 30 years ago, despite serving 350,000 more people now.

    Storage is another factor. “That’s what made the West,” Stulp said. “We need more storage as we have more people coming.”

    Agricultural objectives include the need to keep pace with national and global demand for food in the face of declining agricultural land worldwide, as well as finding alternatives to “buy and dry.”

    Buy and dry refers to the selling or transfer of agricultural land and the water rights that may come with it, which can take both the land and the water out of ag. production.

    The state has already lost between 500,000 and 700,000 irrigated acres to buy and dry, which the Colorado Water Plan does not prevent.

    The state must guard against dry years by developing alternatives, Stulp said, citing both the 2012 drought in Colorado and the recent, crippling drought in California.

    The former resulted in a $700 million loss; the latter loss is estimated at $9 billion.

    “Drought can be devastating,” Stulp said.

    Rotational fallowing, interruptive supply, deficit irrigation, water cooperatives and water conservation easements have all been presented as alternatives to buy and dry, as have alternate transfer methods.

    Pilot projects are taking place in the state and elsewhere, along with discussions about irrigation technology needs.

    “Alternate transfer methods are designed to be able to transfer water from agriculture to municipal (use) on a temporary basis,” Stulp said.

    That can be mutually beneficial, and also contributes to resiliency. In times of drought, farmers “need to be able to squeeze every drop,” Stulp said.

    The concept of water banking also ties into conserving water, but the challenge lies in making it happen basin-wide, said Montrose County Water Rights Development Coordinator Marc Catlin.

    Catlin also sits on the Colorado River Water Conservation Board and the Gunnison Basin Roundtable.

    Water banking would also encourage some fallowing of ground on a rotational basis.

    “Right now, we’re studying water banking,” Catlin said. Water banking would depend in part on the ability to move unused irrigation water to places where it is needed, past diversion structures.

    This could require adjustments to the Colorado River Compact.

    The 1922 compact is a multi-state agreement for the use of Colorado River water. It requires 7.5 million acre-feet of water each year to be transferred to upper basin states.

    With Mexico’s interests factored in, 8.2 million acre-feet of water flows across Lee’s Ferry each year to meet the compact requirements, a feat made possible by Lake Powell — “our insurance policy,” Catlin said.

    If the compact provisions are not met, the upper basin states can place a call for curtailment; Lake Powell makes it possible to make sure the required amount of water is always going to be available. Drought is currently affecting the lake and hydropower generation from it.

    Catlin said he has concerns with water banking, among these, “urban cousins” selling permanent water taps based on a temporary water supply.

    “It’s going to take everybody” to decide what conservation looks like, Catlin said. “It’s a limited supply.”

    Said Stulp: “The water plan is going to be as good as we implement it.”

    2016 Colorado Water Congress Summer Conference recap #cwcsc16 #COWaterPlan

    steamboatlake

    From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

    Colorado’s Water Plan envisions spending $100 million annually on water projects, but existing sources of funding are drying up.

    The Legislature’s interim water resources review committee heard some of the reasons for that, as well as recent poll results that indicate the state’s voters might be ready to back a large-scale funding approach.

    Revenues from the state’s mineral severance tax, which are used in part to fund water project loans, will drop significantly this year as a result of a state Supreme Court decision and depressed oil and gas prices, said Bill Levine, budget director for the Department of Natural Resources.

    The court decision agrees with BP Petroleum’s assertion that Colorado had been overtaxing companies by including production costs that should have been deductible. State revenues took a double hit, both from the lower present value — about half of the price two years ago — and complicated tax code provisions that factor in losses from prior years.

    “We’ve hit the cliff and gone over the cliff,” Levine said.

    As a result, revenues that totaled $271 million in 2014 dropped to $57 million this year. In addition, the state is looking at repaying potentially $20 million to BP and other companies based on the court case.

    Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling, took issue at blaming the Supreme Court for the predicament.

    “This is the cost of the Department of Revenue making poor decisions 10-15 years ago. The Supreme Court is not to blame,” he told Levine.

    On the bright side, for water interests, state voters are supportive of spending money for planning, conservation, enhancement of river habitat, new water supplies and new storage projects, Denver pollster Floyd Ciruli told the committee. Those concepts have an 80-90 percent approval rating.

    He cautioned the committee that sometimes those rosy numbers change by the time an actual measure is proposed, such as in 2003, when Referendum A was defeated in every Colorado county.

    The $2 billion measure, which newspaper editorials branded a “blank check” showed early support among voters.

    “A small passion against (a proposal) can grow to defeat,” Ciruli said.

    Other polling results showed that attention has shifted to water quality from results of similar questions in 2013, when storage was more important because of an ongoing drought.

    The survey also showed voters put more trust in local government than state, and far less in federal solutions.

    “But the public is ready for implementation (of water projects),” he stressed.

    #COWaterPlan: The 11th Annual Sustaining #Colorado Watersheds Conference is just around the corner!

    stopcollaborateandlistenbusinessblog

    Click here for all the inside skinny. From the website:

    The 11th Annual
    SUSTAINING COLORADO WATERSHEDS CONFERENCE
    is just around the corner!
    When: October 11–13, 2016

    Where: Westin Riverfront Resort, Avon, Colorado

    This years 2nd plenary session is focused on

    MOVING FROM PLAN INTO ACTION.

    Plenary moderator Anne Castle, former Interior Department Assistant Secretary for Water and Science, now Senior Fellow with the Getches-Wilkinson Center for Natural Resources, Energy, and the Environment, will lead this discussion on implementation of the Colorado Water Plan. John Stulp, Governor’s Water Policy Advisor, will be participating in this panel along with industry experts Ted Kowalski, Peter Nichols, and Julio Iturreria. Topics include integrated land and water planning, alternative transfer methods and water banks, creative funding schemes and philanthropic roles in statewide water projects.

    Our annual conference expands cooperation and collaboration throughout Colorado in natural resource conservation, protection, and enhancement by informing participants about new issues and innovative projects. In 2016, the conference will focus on what is needed to help ensure long-term sustainability for river health, public education, and organizational management.

    To learn more and to register go to the Colorado Watershed Assembly Website.