In 139 years of Colorado being a state, it had never had a water plan- until today. On Thursday, November 19 the Colorado Water Conservation Board unveiled the State's first ever water plan. The plan will help keep rivers and streams healthy that will continue to support Colorado's economy and quality of life.
“We’re pleased that the Colorado Water Plan recognizes that healthy rivers are central to Colorado’s quality of life and help drive our booming, $13 billion recreation economy,” said David Nickum, executive director of Colorado Trout Unlimited. “If we want a future of Gold Medal trout rivers and outdoor opportunities, we need to plan for that future—and this plan is a step in the right direction.”
Colorado Trout Unlimited supports three main components of the plan. The first being that irrigation throughout the state needs to be modernized, communities need to create stream management plans, and lastly, the plan establishes the base work for evaluation trans-mountain water diversion.
Primarily on the Western Slope, TU is working with farmers and ranchers on modernizing their irrigation techniques. The new water plan and Colorado General Assembly help fund the transition and provide incentives and support to farmers and ranchers changing their techniques.
The community Stream Management Plans will help local communities better understand the importance of flows that support a healthy river as well as recreational and other usage.
“Steam management plans bring local water users together to determine how best to use limited water resources,” Said Drew Peternell, director of TU’s Colorado Water Project. “They are an exercise in collaboration.”
TU has opposed trans-mountain water diversions unless there is a large focus on conservation, shows that water is available for the project, and guarantees against environmental or economic harm to the basin of origin.
The Colorado Water Plan is just a beginning. The true test will be the implementation of the proposed ideas.
“The Final Water Plan is a beginning not an end,” said Nickum. “The key to Colorado’s water future will be actual on-the-ground collaboration to meet our water needs while protecting our state’s rivers and agricultural heritage.”