Water Lines: Colorado Water Plan the focus of three-evening course | PostIndependent.com

Water Lines: Colorado Water Plan the focus of three-evening course

Hannah Holm
WATER LINES
Free Press Weekly Columnist

You may have heard that Colorado’s water needs are expected to outstrip developed water supplies within a couple of decades, driven mostly by urban growth.

How will these needs be met, and at what cost to whom?

These questions are at the heart of the challenge of preparing the Colorado Water Plan, which Governor Hickenlooper has decreed must be drafted by the end of 2014 and finalized by the end of 2015. Coming up with the right answers is not just a technical challenge. For the plan to truly reflect Coloradans’ needs and values, input from the public is crucial.

With that in mind, the Water Center at Colorado Mesa University is focusing its annual three-evening water course on what citizens need to know to understand what’s at stake and how to make their voices heard as the Colorado Water Plan is developed.

This course is open to the public. It will be held on Colorado Mesa University’s campus in the University Center Ballroom from 6-9 p.m. on three consecutive Mondays: Feb. 3, Feb. 10 and Feb. 17. The cost is $45 for the whole series, or $20 per session, with scholarships available for those who can’t afford the cost.

Feb. 3 – Physical Realities of Colorado Water Supply and Demand

On Feb. 3, Dr. Gigi Richard will provide an overview of how Coloradans currently meet their needs for irrigation, drinking water and recreation, and what factors are necessary for healthy streams. She will also touch on the climate factors that affect our water supplies. Speakers from the Colorado and Gunnison Basin Roundtables will then discuss the water needs that have been identified for these two river basins, which meet in Grand Junction. The basin roundtables are groups of stakeholders responsible for assessing water needs and recommending projects in their river basins. Plans developed by basin roundtables across the state are to be building blocks for the statewide water plan.

Feb. 10 – Laws, Compacts and Agreements for Meeting Future Water Needs

On Feb. 10, attorney Aaron Clay will provide an overview of Colorado water law, focusing on how it relates to strategies for meeting future water needs. Then John McClow, Colorado’s representative to the Upper Colorado River Basin Commission, will discuss the importance of the Colorado River Compact, the 1922 agreement on how to allocate the Colorado River’s water between states. Peter Fleming, attorney for the Colorado River District, will then discuss recent and still-developing agreements designed to help address growing water needs on the Front Range while addressing the West Slope impacts of piping water over the Continental Divide.

Feb. 17 – The Colorado Water Plan: Process and Perspectives

On Feb. 17, Mike King, executive director of Colorado’s Department of Natural Resources, will discuss the need for a Colorado Water Plan and how the plan will be developed. Mr. King’s presentation will be followed by a panel that provides perspectives on how the Colorado Water Plan could affect the East Slope, the West Slope, agriculture and the environment. The public will also have the opportunity to provide input regarding what they would like to see in the plan.

Coffee and light refreshments will be provided to help keep folks alert, and the Water Center is seeking accreditation to provide continuing-education credits for lawyers, realtors, water system operators and teachers who participate in the course.

For more information or to register, contact the Water Center at watercenter@coloradomesa.edu or call 970-248-1968.

This is part of a series of articles coordinated by the Water Center at Colorado Mesa University in cooperation with the Colorado and Gunnison Basin Roundtables to raise awareness about water needs, uses and policies in our region. To learn more about the basin roundtables and statewide water planning, and to let the roundtables know what you think, go to http://www.coloradomesa.edu/WaterCenter. You can also find the Water Center on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/WaterCenter.CMU or Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/WaterCenterCMU.


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