Letter: Water conservation should be a priority
I grew up making summer trips to the Fryingpan Valley, where I spent hours along the banks of the Fryingpan river sometimes bravely treading into the cold water. My experience with — and love of — this watershed expanded when I spent summers raft guiding on the Roaring Fork and Colorado rivers. I have come to respect Colorado’s rivers, and also recognize many are endangered.
Over 40 percent of the water in the Fryingpan Basin is diverted and pumped through mountains to the Front Range, and it’s a similar story for the Roaring Fork. The Fraser River has a staggering 60 percent of its water diverted, and the Crystal often dips below the minimum recommended environmental flow.
Despite the existing, heavy reliance on Western Slope rivers, water providers east of the divide continue to look west for more water. With locals justly adamant there is no more water available, it’s time we recognize rivers need a certain level of flow to maintain their recreational and environmental benefits.
The good news is we are taking a hard look at our water use, as just this week Gov. Hickenlooper was presented with the draft of the state’s first water plan by the Colorado Water Conservation board. As we continue collaboration around the plan, we have the opportunity to better protect our rivers by prioritizing water conservation in the plan. For the Colorado citizens, economies, ecosystems and communities that depend on healthy, flowing rivers, conservation is the least impactful, most effective and cost-efficient way to meeting our water needs.
I ask the governor to take this opportunity to guide Colorado towards a more sustainable water future, and to support the inclusion of a high conservation goal in Colorado’s Water Plan.
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