Water Lines: Public meeting on Colorado’s water plan set for March 17 | PostIndependent.com

Water Lines: Public meeting on Colorado’s water plan set for March 17

Hannah Holm
Free Press Weekly Columnist

What is the value of green lawns relative to green alfalfa fields relative to gold medal trout streams? What is the appropriate role for local and state governments in guiding and limiting water use? What kinds of water projects merit public investment?

In an environment where supplies of both water and money are finite, and our common interests in a shared resource sometimes clash with our desires to minimize government meddling, finding broad consensus on such questions is daunting. And yet failing to settle on a cohesive vision for how to balance competing needs for water into the future may increase the chances that piecemeal decisions made through court battles, financial transactions and the ballot box will lead to a water future that very few people really want.

This challenge is at the heart of current debates on the draft Colorado Water Plan, which seeks to chart a course towards filling a projected gap between the water needs of the state’s growing cities and developed water supplies.

The Colorado Water Conservation Board released a first draft of the Colorado Water Plan in December 2014. This draft was largely based on draft basin plans developed by “basin roundtables” of stakeholders and water managers from individual river basins. These plans differ on key issues, including how ambitious to get with urban conservation and whether additional Colorado River water should flow east across the Continental Divide. However, they are united in seriously assessing their basins’ water needs for agriculture, the environment, recreation and urban growth, and attempting to chart a course forward to meet those needs in a way that reflects their constituents’ values.

Next month, the Colorado and Gunnison Basin Roundtables, like their counterparts across the state, must turn in the final versions of their basin plans. The final statewide plan is due in December 2015. As part of a final round of public consultation before finalizing their basin plans, the Colorado and Gunnison Basin Roundtables are working with the Water Center at Colorado Mesa University to hold a public meeting on the plans at Grand Junction City Hall on March 17 at 7 p.m. Please attend and weigh in on your hopes for Colorado’s water future.

Background information and online surveys can be found at http://www.coloradomesa.edu/watercenter/RoundtableEducationProject.html.

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 Facebook.com/WaterCenter.CMU or Twitter at Twitter.com/WaterCenterCMU.

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