Kumbaya on the Colorado River?

Summit County Citizens Voice
By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Gov. John Hickenlooper will join West Slope officials and water managers from both sides of the Continental Divide this Thursday (April 28) to announce a water deal that could — if adopted — end decades of bickering over Colorado’s most precious resource. Read about the announcement at the Colorado River Water Conservation District website. Whether or not the deal can improve those conditions remains to be seen, and it’s also unclear as to who will decide what constitutes a healthy ecosystem — especially since conservation groups apparently did not have a full-fledged seat at the table during the negotiations.

It’s also unclear what would happen — if, as most reputable studies predict — there is less water in the Colorado River Basin due to climate change in the coming decades. Most research suggests drought will become more intense and widespread in the Southwest, which could increase demand for Colorado River water from the states lower in the basin, including Arizona, and especially California.

Nevertheless, stakeholders like Trout Unlimited have expressed cautious optimism. Based on what they know about the deal, they say it’s a solid first step toward collaborative water management, which to many people is better than fighting.