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Helping River Voices be Heard on the CO State Water Plan

Posted: 09/25/2014
by Nathan Fey

At the last meeting of the Colorado Water Conservation Board two weeks ago, outdoor business leaders, advocates like Annie Henderson of the Upper Colorado River Private Boaters Association, realtors and concerned citizens gathered to urge the Board to make sure that river-based recreation receives equal consideration in the upcoming Colorado Water Plan.

The CWCB meeting took place in the City of Glenwood Springs along the Colorado River (home of the famous Glenwood Whitewater Park), a community that relies heavily on recreation and tourism as economic drivers. In association with the meeting, AW and our partners held a press conference that generated some positive coverage (check that out here and here), and then provided public comment at the Board’s meeting. The board wasn’t particularly receptive, to put it mildly, to the concern that is developing over the lack of recreational and ecological science being used to develop a comprehensive water plan for Colorado.

While the state water plan is still in a draft form, we’re very concerned about a number of threats to rivers contained in some parts of the draft. Much of it relies on outdated and extravagant uses of water in our arid state. Even more concerning, some of the plan is focused on fast-tracking expensive trans-mountain water diversions that would siphon the last of our west-slope rivers to east-slope cities.

Beyond these bad ideas, the plan isn’t leading the way on protecting river health and recreational opportunities that our communities rely on. That’s too bad, because there are three decades of science that have been developed around how to define stream flows for recreation, and to understand the relationships between streamflow and recreation quality. And there are so many opportunities to prioritize conservation and other innovations like reuse and water sharing. That’s so much more sensible than any new, large-scale trans-mountain diversions.

You can make your voice heard on the Colorado water plan by clicking here.