Colorado seeks $25 million for river health and stream planning.

posted January 7, 2017
by Nathan Fey

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Colorado’s rivers need your support in securing State funds for the development of watershed management plans – critical for maintaining and improving stream health throughout the State.

In response to increasing droughts and a booming population, Colorado launched its first Statewide Water Plan in November, 2015. The Water Plan aims to sustain “a productive economy, vibrant and sustainable cities, productive agriculture, a strong environment, and a robust recreation industry”, now and in the future. The Plan mandates that Stream Management Plans be developed for 80% of priority streams and rivers to protect their environmental and recreational values. Without stream and watershed plans, waterways will be subject to low flows as more water projects are proposed to meet the needs of an increasing population.

In an effort to support this planning initiative, the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) is asking State lawmakers to approve $25 million for developing Stream Management Plans around the State. The funding proposal would allocate $5 million a year, for up to five years, to be managed by the eight major river basin roundtables for the development of Stream Management Plans. 

As an advocate for improving watershed management throughout the State, American Whitewater strongly recommends that the State approve the $25 million funding request for the development of Stream Management Plans. Our hope is that Colorado can support the implementation of the Water Plan with $10 million a year, and this current request is a critical step forward.

American Whitewater has been involved in the Colorado Water Plan since its initial grassroots development, and today, we continue to play a key role in the Plan’s implementation as the primary advocate for protecting the rivers we all know and love. We have been undertaking direct outreach to the Basin Roundtables and watershed communities to ensure that protecting recreational and environmental values is a top priority in watershed management.

Stream and Watershed Management Plans have the potential to improve public access to rivers, preserve recreational flows, and enhance protection for river habitats, while limiting big water developments - such as trans-mountain diversions. As an invested stakeholder in the planning process, American Whitewater is conducting flow studies, working with other stakeholders and State agencies, helping assess the impacts from proposed new projects, and increasing community participation in deciding the future of our rivers. 

The $25 million funding proposal will be initially reviewed at a congressional meeting on Wednesday, January 11th, after which there will be opportunities for YOU to show your support for funding the Water Plan – a fundamental step towards securing protection for priority streams now and for future generations.

As we start thinking about spring boating, stay tuned for how you can be involved in the coming weeks to protect our favorite rivers!

Relevant resources:

Colorado Water Conservation Board

Colorado’s Water Plan

Basin Implementation Plans for the eight major basins in Colorado

 

Colorado Stewardship Director
Nathan Fey
1601 Longs Peak Ave.
Longmont, CO 80501
Phone: 303-859-8601