Last year the Colorado legislature passed HB 1177 - The Colorado Water for the 21st Century Act and decided that water roundtables for each of the basins in the state would be a way to keep water decisions from becoming contentious. Everyone involved would check their guns at the door, sit around a big conference table, lay out self-interests, and align them in a way that would achieve consensus. Today's Pueblo Chieftain brings us up to date on what's happening with the Arkansas River Basin roundtable.
From the article, "Welcome to Water Buffalo 101.
"Some came to hunt. Some came to herd. A few came out shooting.
"And Bent County Commissioner Frank Wallace nearly started a stampede with a simple question at the Arkansas Basin Roundtable Wednesday.
"'I've been coming to these meetings since they started,' Wallace said. 'I'd like to know what the hell we're doing here. The cities want water. Farmers want to sell. Communities want to protect the water. What are we doing?'
"Luckily, the group stayed in place, meeting for the first time at Colorado State University-Pueblo, after six previous meetings at the Pueblo Convention Center. Much of Wednesday's meeting focused on how the 52-member roundtable will begin discussing serious water issues...
"'Let's get our feet wet with the Southern Delivery System,' Fremont County Commissioner Mike Stiehl said.
"He suggested a 'mock trial' on Colorado Springs' plans to built a pipeline from Pueblo Dam and its alternatives that are affecting Fremont County.
"Dennis Smith, Lake County's representative, wanted to jump-start discussion on assessing water storage needs.
"Avondale farmer Dan Henrichs talked about meeting urban water needs with agricultural leases, blasting the 'not one drop' mentality that would block more leases...
"At one point in the meeting a flap over Colorado water law broke out, when moderator Gary Barber, representing El Paso County, tried to explain how the roundtable might work better than the doctrine of prior appropriation to solve certain types of water conflicts. He cited the 15-year-old voluntary flow program on the Upper Arkansas River as an example...
"Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District Director Denzel Goodwin of Fremont County noted that the first thing he said after joining the roundtable was that prior appropriation - court rights for water use in order of historical claim - would be protected...
"La Junta Water Superintendent Joe Kelley summarized the discussion, saying it underscored the need to find a way to listen to others' concerns. He said people in La Junta are tied to an agricultural economy, but also enjoy water-related recreation or shopping in the larger cities."
Category: Colorado Water