New tap fees approved by Wiggins trustees


From The Fort Morgan times (Stephanie Alderton):

The Wiggins board of trustees passed a resolution [November 11, 2015] clarifying how much town residents will have to pay to install new water taps.

This resolution is the latest in a series of efforts by the town council to conform to the Colorado Health Department’s new water regulations. Although Wiggins already had laws listing the required water tap fees, or “water plant investment fees,” for small home installations, the council decided the laws weren’t clear enough for larger, commercial installations. The new resolution aims to fix that problem.

Resolution 48-2015 lists the amount anyone applying for a water tap will have to pay the town, based on the tap’s size. It also states that all applicants will have to install the tap at their own expense, and that all water services must be metered and approved by the town manager. This is in accordance with Regulation 11 in the Colorado Health Department’s 2015 Water Quality Control Commission regulations.

For new builders, the fees will range from $11,500—for a small, household tap—to $225,000 for the largest tap. Town administrator Paul Larino said these fees are “competitive” compared to those of neighboring towns. He also said this won’t be the last water-related resolution the council will have to consider. The new Health Department regulations are hundreds of pages long, and the Wiggins trustees are still in the process of reading through them.

Ute Water customers to pay more for 4th year in a row — The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel

From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Charles Ashby):

Rates for Ute Water customers are headed higher for the fourth year in a row.

The water conservancy district’s board of directors announced Tuesday that starting Jan. 1 the minimum charge for the first 3,000 gallons of water used in a month will go from $20 to $22, while residential tap fees will increase 3 percent, from $6,800 per tap to $7,000.

That’s double the rate increases the district imposed this year. In 2012, the district’s rate was $15 for the first 3,000 gallons.

The increase is needed to replenish reserve funds the district used when it bought water in Ruedi Reservoir near Basalt from the Bureau of Land Management, which the district did in 2013, said Joe Burtard, external affairs manager for the district. The additional money from the latest increase is for the district’s next major project, expanding Monument Reservoir on Grand Mesa, he said.

“Our board has been really aggressive and proactive in establishing a reserve fund for projects like Ruedi,” he said. “What we don’t want to do is, go into the construction of Monument Reservoir and take out loans and bonds to pay for that because that increases the construction costs, and that cost is then passed on to our consumers.”

Burtard said the increase is expected to generate about $800,000 a year toward that project, he said.

He said the increases stem from a Raw Water Study the district did back in 2011, which identified the need for more water storage, as much as 21,400 acre-feet, to handle the anticipated population growth in the Grand Valley.

That population is expected to increase the district’s customers to about 197,000 residents by 2045, more than double the 80,000 people it serves now.

To address that potential demand, the district has been working in recent years to expand its water supplies, including purchasing more acre-feet at Ruedi and expanding Monument Reservoir.

The Monument project, which is expected to cost about $21 million, would provide another 4,700 acre-feet of water. The district is nearing the end of getting a permit for the project, Burtard said.

This summer, the district also spent about $450,000 on a hydropower electric project, which is designed to power its water-treatment plant and help it save operating costs in the long term.

The district also is expanding pipelines on Orchard Mesa and in the Redlands areas, expanding its water pumping capabilities and upgrading or replacing some of its vehicles, he said.

It has about $6 million budgeted for capital projects for next year. “Water providers are having to become really creative in thinking outside of the box in how they’re going to develop additional water resources,” Burtard said. “One of ours was the purchase of Ruedi Reservoir, which I think anyone can say that’s probably the most significant that Ute Water’s ever made in its history.”

He said the district’s board of directors prefers to build its cash reserves to pay for large projects rather than go into debt or sell bonds for such projects.

Burtard said the board opted for an increase in its 3,000-gallon minimum rather than implement a different tiered payment structure because it doesn’t want to penalize people who conserve water by staying under that threshold.

The board also didn’t like the idea of increasing tap fees because of fears it might hinder growth, but felt it was better to put a greater burden on future development rather than existing customers, he said.

Grand Junction back in the day with the Grand Mesa in background
Grand Junction back in the day with the Grand Mesa in background

Fountain Creek: “The Water Quality Control Commission has ignored the problems” — Jay Winner

Fountain Creek Watershed
Fountain Creek Watershed

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Recent revelations about deficiencies in stormwater control could snag Colorado Springs plans to expand its water system.

The Bureau of Reclamation and Pueblo County need to take a second look at the environmental impact statement that cleared the way to build the $841 million Southern Delivery System, and the newly constructed water pipeline from the Pueblo dam to El Paso County should not be turned on until the issue is settled, said Jay Winner, general manager of the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District.

“We’ve been saying this for years,” Winner said. “We need to get past the talk from Colorado Springs and stop them from flushing all their crap down Fountain Creek. They need to walk the walk.”

Winner was reacting to an inspection report released this week by the Environmental Protection Agency that could be the basis for a federal lawsuit over inadequate stormwater control in Colorado Springs.
Among other things, the report says the city failed to correct problems identified two years earlier, that it knowingly violated the terms of its municipal separate storm sewer system permit and that it is not enforcing its own guidelines for new development.

Reclamation’s EIS was done in 2009, when Colorado Springs had a stormwater enterprise in place that generated millions of dollars annually to take care of the very problems outlined in the inspection. The assumption by Reclamation was that since it was in place, the only issue were future flows generated by new development related to SDS.

If that created problems, Reclamation relied on a vague “adaptive management” concept to rectify problems.
Reclamation failed to answer political calls to reopen the EIS in 2010 after Colorado Springs City Council torpedoed the stormwater enterprise on a split vote after a city election.

The EPA’s inspection report shows problems continue to worsen as Colorado Springs ignores its stormwater infrastructure. The Colorado Springs City Council and Mayor John Suthers have devised a plan to provide $19 million in funding toward complying with the MS4 permit and addressing a more than $500 million backlog in projects.

Winner said a more permanent funding source is needed, which the EPA concurs with in its inspection report. This needs to be a consideration for Pueblo County commissioners, who are negotiating with Colorado Springs over compliance on the stormwater issue as it relates to the 1041 permit for SDS.

“I think we’ve been hoodwinked long enough by their City Council,” Winner said. “I would hope the new (Pueblo) City Council will become more engaged and not put up with these shenanigans.”

One of the new Pueblo City Council members is Winner’s wife, Lori Winner.

Winner also is uneasy that the Arkansas Basin Roundtable this month endorsed a Colorado Springs Utilities employee, Mark Shea, for a seat on the Colorado Water Quality Control Commission. Winner, a member of the roundtable, urged caution at the meeting. Recently, another Utilities executive, Mark Pifher, (now a consultant for Utilities) served on the commission.

“The Water Quality Control Commission has ignored the problems,” Winner said. “It’s like asking the fox to guard the henhouse.”

More coverage from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain:

Turns out the bare minimum that Colorado Springs said it was doing to prevent contaminated water from its streets flowing into Fountain Creek was not enough to satisfy the federal government.

The one constant that Colorado Springs officials had assured Pueblo County and the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District was being met was the MS4 permit with the Environmental Protection Agency.

MS4 stands for municipal separate storm sewer system, and the existence of the permit itself has been held up for years in presentations by Colorado Springs as evidence that the city was doing basic work to regulate stormwater.

But according to an EPA report finalized in August, little progress has been made to rectify problems identified in a February 2013 audit. The inspection could be the basis for a federal lawsuit over Colorado Springs stormwater deficiencies.

In fact, city o€fficials were aware of shortcomings, as the EPA stated: “During the inspection, city representatives stated they were fully aware of the lack of resources to adequately implement the MS4 program, and cited the termination of the city’s SWENT (stormwater enterprise) in 2009 and overall lack of political, managerial and community support for the city’s MS4 program as contributing factors.”

Photographs in the report show severe erosion, crumbled drop structures, vegetation growing in concrete ditches and cracked channels clogged by logs and trash throughout the city.

Colorado Springs also has assured Pueblo County and the Lower Ark that new development that benefits from the soon-to-be-completed Southern Delivery System would be regulated to avoid any additional impact on Fountain Creek.

There has also been a lot of talk about how the city has developed a design criteria manual to protect Fountain Creek.

The EPA inspection, however, notes that Colorado Springs is doing very little to make new development comply with regulations after looking at more than 600 plans reviewed by the city. The report stated: “It was unclear at the time of the inspection how the city would ensure submittal of appropriate design elements in the future. … The city did not ensure that public and private permanent BMPs (best management practices) were properly designed, approved and installed.”

#COWaterPlan: “…the same giant unresolved issue is always present — funding” — Greg Walcher

From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Greg Walcher):

Ever since the writings of Solomon more than 900 years BC, it has been said that “there is nothing new under the sun.” He was not referring to Colorado’s continual water planning, but he could not have described it better.

Gov. John Hickenlooper just announced what he called Colorado’s “first-ever” comprehensive water plan. It is the final product of a decade of meetings, committees, and proposals. As finally adopted by the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB), the 500-page plan calls for $20 billion worth of conservation measures, though no specific strategy for funding it.

Interestingly, the press reports mention the 10-year process, but also claim this governor ordered CWCB to begin statewide water planning in 2013. In fact it has been underway a long time — not one decade, but several. But when things go well, there is plenty of credit to go around, and much of this new water plan is praiseworthy.

It calls for a new statewide conservation goal of 400,000 acre-feet of water by 2050. It also mentions a projected shortfall in municipal and industrial water demand of 560,000 acre-feet by 2050, and proposes to reduce that shortfall to zero by 2030. Again, the math is a bit unclear, but whether we plan to conserve 400,000 or 560,000 acre feet, it would be a good thing either way.

Interestingly, the plan also calls for construction of 400,000 acre-feet of additional water storage — which many of us have advocated for years. Our state is growing, not shrinking, and our need for water will continue to grow. Colorado is entitled under interstate agreements to substantially more water than it uses, so it is simply irresponsible not to store the water we get during wet periods, so we can use it during dry periods. When I served on the CWCB 15 years ago, we advocated creative new ways to store water, by expanding existing reservoirs, and using underground storage in closed aquifers. Both techniques have been used successfully elsewhere, and both are now part of Colorado’s official state plan. Bravo.

Unfortunately, the plan also mentions the prospect of new trans-mountain diversions — which should not and will not happen. Half of the Colorado River is already diverted to the Front Range, more than enough. There are, as the plan points out, plenty of ways for Denver to conserve water, and to store more of its own supply. In fact, as Denver Water CEO Jim Lochhead points out, their residents have already reduced usage 20 percent over the last 10 years without any major problems. Lochhead was quoted saying, “We can go a lot lower without sacrificing quality of life.” He is right.

We have been down this road many times before, and the same giant unresolved issue is always present — funding. Much of the anticipated $20 billion cost of these water measures would be borne by utilities and their customers (who have not yet been asked if they want higher water bills), but the state also needs another $100 million a year for its share. The report suggests new federal funding (unlikely from today’s budget-sensitive Congress), tax increases (perhaps a statewide mill levy, higher severance taxes, or a sales tax increase) — or a new bond program. Only the latter approach would really be new, and believe me, it is a can of worms.

You see, new water projects are always viewed with suspicion in Colorado. A 2003 initiative [Referendum A] to create bonding authority for water projects became so thoroughly unpopular that it was defeated in every county, and became a campaign issue against candidates (including me) in three consecutive elections. That measure authorized no water projects; it was merely a future funding mechanism. Still, a century of history gave Coloradans good reason to suspect the worst: that someone might eventually use it to build trans-mountain diversions to “steal” water from one basin to another. So the proposal went down in flames at the ballot box and the result was, for another generation, no new water storage at all.

The comprehensive plan completed this week provides some hope that Coloradans might eventually emerge from those years of distrust and work together on a long-term solution. That could involve both conservation and creative new storage in every river basin of the state (instead of diverting water between them), public-private partnerships, bonding and other new funding sources, and a genuinely more prosperous future for all of Colorado. That would be something new under the sun, and would be worth all the effort that has gone into it.

Greg Walcher is president of the Natural Resources Group and author of “Smoking Them Out: The Theft of the Environment and How to Take it Back.” He is a Western Slope native.

Summit County could face strain from #COWaterPlan — Summit Daily News

Blue River
Blue River

From the Summit Daily News (Kevin Fixler):

“Seeing what California is going through, it’s much better to plan ahead than having to react to an emergency,” said Karn Stiegelmeier, one of Summit County’s commissioners, and vice chair of the Colorado Basin Roundtable, a council tasked with management and assessment of the Western Slope’s water supply. “That’s why we’re focused on conservation, which is obviously the most cost-effective way to ‘get more water,’ or share more water.”

Many, including a wide array of environmental and conservation groups endorse the new plan, citing a balanced safeguarding of the state’s $9 billion outdoors and recreation economy with its robust agricultural industries as well as the wildlife that call Colorado’s waterways home. They say it helps lay out Colorado’s environmental and outdoor values, and the timing is key.

“It’s very crucial in this moment, because it’s the best narrative of what is going on,” said Jim Pokrandt of the Colorado River District, a public water policy agency in charge of protecting the Colorado River Basin. “Water is something people take so for granted until you go to your spigot and it doesn’t come out.

Pokrandt, also the chair of the Colorado Basin Roundtable and f0rmer Summit Daily editor, used the swelling weekend traffic of the I-70 mountain corridor as an analogy for this story of the West and how, similarly, increased measures will be necessary to help counterbalance an already stressed system. The state’s water network, he said, needs the liquid equivalent of traffic metering, a toll road and extra lanes bored through Veterans Memorial Tunnels, to negate the effects of earlier decisions like water-centric Kentucky bluegrass across the state’s suburban neighborhoods.

“The offshoot of that is the water equation,” said Pokrandt. “Those people are already coming. They’re already here. How are we going to build water infrastructure for the next increments of residential development? Are we going to put more importance on urban, grassy landscapes, or are we going to moderate that and keep an eye on a better future for the Colorado River and agriculture?”[…]

The mountain communities have consistency voiced concern over additional trans-mountain diversions, taking more of that melted snowpack downstream to the state’s largest population zones, such as Denver, Aurora and Colorado Springs, that demand and require it. Before the final water plan was announced, a community group calling themselves the Citizens for Western Slope Water submitted a petition to Gov. Hickerlooper with almost 15,000 signatures against any new diversions from the headwaters. Fears of doing so consist of more negative environmental impact due to the rivers being tapped further, which could affect the rafting and fishing industries, in addition to producing more strain on local farmers and ranchers.

Colorado was one of the last Western states to adopt a water plan. Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Texas and California all have one. Because Colorado’s individual municipalities are the ones that make decisions as to who gets water and how much, rather than the state itself, there is some question as to whether Colorado even needed one.

Proponents call the water plan historic in its deployment, even if at this stage, it provides no big solutions and produces little more than a suggested course of action that requires prolonged implementation of its guidelines. Few argue with the intent of the policy, however, in its attempts to solidify local awareness as well extend the conversation about Western water for decades to come — a move which even the plan’s harshest critics can agree upon.

Watering the West: How pioneers built local towns through irrigation — The Watch

Dolores River watershed
Dolores River watershed

From The Watch (Regan Tuttle):

Telluride’s early days, survival depended dearly on water. The enterprises that built the region — farming, ranching and mining — required irrigation from rivers, and lots of it. Of course, water becomes scarcer the farther one moves from the mountains or from the San Miguel River.

For the pioneers, creating an infrastructure that could sustain them in the short term and withstand the march of progress was no easy task. Suffering cold conditions, subsisting on biscuits and beans, laboring with shovels, axes and other hand tools, pioneers worked to channel water from its source to where they needed it.
Back then, this was legal. Just decades ago, as the old-timers established our local towns, “Water could be diverted from the stream, and ditches built across public and private land to convey water to its place of beneficial use,” the Colorado Foundation for Water Education reported.

“In a dry and thirsty land it is necessary to divert the waters of the streams from their natural channels,” Colorado Chief Justice Moses Hallet said in the late 1800s.


During Telluride’s early days, water was hauled from the San Miguel River and from springs on the east side of town. Wilson Rockwell said in his book “Uncompahgre Country” that a man named Dutch George in the late 1800s delivered five-gallon buckets of water from the spring at Cornet Creek to saloons and businesses on what is now Colorado Avenue for 10 cents each, two buckets at a time, balanced by a yoke around his neck.

When attorney L.L. Nunn needed water for his commercial bathhouse on the east end, he ran a garden hose from Cornet Falls. Later, in 1886, H. H. Corbin constructed a 370-foot vertical pipeline that transported water from Cornet Creek into town.

Though people then said it couldn’t be done, high pressure water was flumed from Trout Lake to help establish the Ames power plant, and later the Ilium plant, that would put Telluride on the map as the first city in the world to be powered by alternating electric current. Of course, the purpose was to support the mining industry.


For some, creating access to water was more difficult. The Town of Nucla, formerly Tabeguache Park, was founded by a socialist organization whose members wanted to escape their greedy landlords in Denver. By accident, they discovered the location that provided everything they desired: mild winters, ample sunlight, virgin soil — but no water.

Called the Colorado Cooperative Company, the members, or comrades, set up camp in the late 1800s in what became the second largest city in Montrose County to bring water to the homesteads for which they’d filed claims.
They were told their task was impossible.

“I believe [that] actually helped build the ditch. When you are told you can’t, you’ll bust a tug to do it,” Leonard F. Zatterstrom said in a memoir published in Marie Templeton’s book “The Visionaries.”

The Colorado Cooperative Company constructed a 17-mile-long wooden flume, called the CC Ditch, built along the wall of the San Miguel River canyon. David Lavender in “One Man’s West” writes that those who worked on the ditch were compensated by “credit at the commissary for food and supplies, plus water credits toward the purchase of ditch rights. The canal succeeded, and several prosperous farms sprang up.”

People like Zatterstrom worked eight-hour days building the flume, sleeping in the bunkhouse, buying their food through the company store and receiving rations of milk from the cooperative’s dairy cows.

Nucla was born when the project was completed in 1904, and “Piñon became a ghost town practically overnight,” Zatterstrom said.

But the hard work didn’t pay off for everyone. Mary Rogers was a 9-year old girl during the CC Ditch project. Because both her parents died, she went to live with her grandmother and uncles, the Heinemans, who worked on the CC Ditch. Like others, the German family came to Piñon in search of a better life, and hoped to one day own a farm.

“My mother worked in the garden and did dishes,” Norma McKeever, now 88, said. According to her, the conditions were not pleasant, especially in the winter. Rogers said the food was terrible, just biscuits and beans at the camp’s boardinghouse in the cold season. But it was worth it to the family. They’d filed a homestead claim with hopes that when the CC Ditch was done, they’d have irrigation water and could build a life.

Rogers was in her teens by the time the CC Ditch was completed. But the water didn’t reach the Heineman’s farm in 1904. The majority of the CC Ditch workers had accomplished what they’d needed for their own homesteads, and they weren’t willing to extend the project. What can you do with a farm that has no water?

Grandmother Heineman went to work as a washerwoman and housekeeper for those who owned prosperous farms. Mary Rogers got a job at the Western Hotel in Norwood. One of her uncles moved to Nevada and never came back.

McKeever said the Heinemans, buried in the pauper site at Nucla Cemetery, weren’t the only ones to feel cheated out of their homestead dreams.

Though socialism failed, the town has not. Water still serves Nucla to this day, though the wooden flume has mostly been replaced by more practical means. The town celebrates the water victory every July with their Water Days celebration.


Wilson Barrett of Redvale is the ditch rider — the patroller or inspector — for the waterway that is the lifeblood of Norwood, the Gurley Ditch. He is the only employee of Farmer’s Water Development, the stock company that “owns” the Gurley and divides its shares of water. But nobody really owns the water in Colorado, he said, just the rights to use it. According to him, life in Norwood wouldn’t be possible for anyone if the old-timers hadn’t dug the ditch.

In the late 1800s, when pioneers began settling Wrights Mesa, Rockwell said Ed Joseph — of the Joseph family, one of the first to settle the area — began construction of a reservoir east of the Lone Cone in the high country.

Some people disagree as to who later built the Gurley Ditch and finished the reservoir above it. Barrett said it was Naturita Land and Cattle Company. Regardless, whatever company worked on the project went bankrupt. One of the owners in that outfit was named Charles Gorley. Over time, the spelling of “Gorley” evolved into “Gurley,” which is used today.

To avoid losing the rights to use their water, local farmers and ranchers on the mesa decided to purchase the floundering company, buying it out of bankruptcy, and then established Farmer’s Water Development.

Now irrigation water runs from the dam through Beaver Park and to Wrights Mesa, mostly for agricultural purposes, but a small percentage is used for domestic water in town.

Barrett’s great uncle, Gordon Barrett, was one of the first workers to help dig the Gurley.

“They came in 1914, and they worked on the ditch in the fall. If you worked in the fall, you could get shares in the company,” Barrett said. “He was nominated to work on the ditch as part of the family so they could get more water.”

Recently, going through old paperwork, Barrett found one of the original invoices for equipment. He discovered a purchase order, sandwiched between old papers, for picks, boxes of dynamite, shovels and other tools that made the Gurley.

Without the ditch, Barrett said, Norwood would not have survived.


Most people probably don’t know that Ridgway almost didn’t survive. Years ago, in the 1960s, there were plans for a dam to be constructed just north of where Ridgway now sits. Had the original plans been executed, Ridgway would now be under water.

Some refer to it as “the town that refused to die,” and Ridgway lucked out when officials in the 1970s decided to move the dam farther north. Now, the Ridgway Reservoir, constructed in the late ‘80s, covers what was the old ghost town of Dallas.

Though Ridgway is situated on the Uncompahgre River, that stream is not the town’s source of water. Sometimes running yellow or orange, the Uncompahgre is known as a “dirty river” due to the minerals it contains. The town of Ridgway sourced its water in the late 1800s from Hartwell Lake, now Lake Otonowanda, below Mount Sneffels.

Ridgway completed a major expansion of its reservoir last summer.


Today, being on town water is a luxury most people probably don’t think much about. While just 100 years ago we were hauling water and digging ditches through the local mountains, most folks now just turn on the tap. Our pioneers have made it possible for us to have access to water even in places where water didn’t naturally occur.

Those who live further out in the country have other water issues, and real estate in many parts of Colorado becomes complicated when water rights enter the picture. Sometimes water rights are a part of landownership; sometimes they’re not. Water is overseen by water commissions and boards in various regions.

These days, one cannot simply dig a diversion ditch from an existing stream or take water from a manmade ditch. Now, water projects involve planning, permits, engineering work and financing. The Colorado Doctrine, a set of laws pertaining to water use and landownership, has been in place since the 1860s.

Some producers, especially the new farmers without water rights, have trouble wrapping their heads around the laws.

Last July Leila Seraphin, formerly of California, bought a property in Norwood that the Gurley Ditch runs through. She said she wishes she could use some of that water for her own farming and gardening, but she knows it’s against the law.

“We were told right when we moved here water was a big issue and taking from the Gurley was not allowed, and that all the water was owned,” she said.

Building a life as a new producer on Wrights Mesa, she has learned a lot about where her water comes from.

“It’s hard to imagine water being free to use, as every drop has a price tag,” she said.

Barrett said people living in this region should be grateful for their water.

“The water we have — 99 percent of it was done with a shovel and a pick. Without the pioneers, there would be nobody here,” he said.

He believes that is especially true for Wrights Mesa, as he said that before the Gurley ditch, life didn’t exist in Norwood.

“The early homesteaders had to go clear into the San Miguel River or into Naturita Creek with wagons and barrels to haul it to have any water at all,” he said. “I’d say for most people [this] is new information.”

Uncompahgre River Valley looking south
Uncompahgre River Valley looking south

#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, including an executive summary.