A Watershed Moment for Colorado
Kelly Brough, September 24, 2015
In December, our governor will finalize Colorado’s first ever water plan. Some might call it a watershed moment for Colorado.
And, if the plan delivers what we hope, it’s truly the moment when the critical work begins. The moment when we put our commitments where our mouths have been these past few years. Where we prove the West Slope and the Front Range can solve the most challenging of issues by working together.
We want to keep these conversations going, and so we are hosting the State of Water on Oct. 8. There you can learn more about the state plan and the future of this resource from leaders in water, business and agriculture, including former Colorado Agriculture Commissioner Don Ament, Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) Director James Eklund, Colorado River District General Manager Eric Kuhn, Denver Water CEO and Manager Jim Lochhead and Eastern Plains farmer Robert Sakata.
This panel of experts will explore innovations in water use and conservation—the most critical issues that must be addressed by the plan—and the many decisions being made each day that impact our future water needs and usage.
How we grow matters. Colorado’s population is forecasted to double by 2050—and our water needs are projected to double with them. At the same time, our reservoirs are declining and compacts require that we send 87 percent of the water leaving Colorado to feed nine states and one country downstream. Like most western states, Colorado faces the possibility of very real shortages that will impact how we live and do business. But, how we grow also affects our water needs—more dense development (which is happening today and should continue to be encouraged) means more efficient water use for municipalities.
We get more done when we work together. There have been countless meetings held across the state to get people talking about water. The CWCB, which has taken on this challenge of drafting a plan, has received some 26,000 comments from the public. (So, yes it appears you are the ONLY person in Colorado who didn’t send comments in.) Water serves many needs that on their face can appear to be in conflict—the challenge we must take on is to work through strategies and goals that don’t put us in conflict but build trust and get us working more closely together to meet all our water needs. We’re already seeing examples of approach when the CWCB approved funding this month for the Water Infrastructure and Supply Efficiency (WISE) project, which will allow Aurora Water, Denver Water and South Metro Water Supply Authority to combine their supplies and system capacities to create a sustainable new water supply.
We have to be bold. Every single Coloradan uses this precious resource. We support putting bold and measurable goals in the plan to ensure we achieve the future we all envision for Colorado. You can hear more about our priorities for the water plan at State of Water.
I hope we’ll see you on Oct. 8 and raise a glass of clean, clear Colorado water with us.
Kelly Brough is the president and CEO of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce.
WISE Water Project Receives Unprecedented Statewide Support
Denver-area project the first to receive funds from Basin Roundtables across the state
- Colorado Water Conservation Board approves $905,000 in state and regional funds
- WISE on track to deliver new sustainable water supply to South Metro region in 2016
Greenwood Village, Colo., Sept. 17, 2015 – The WISE water project today received unprecedented statewide support, becoming the first water infrastructure project in Colorado to receive funding from Basin Roundtables across the state.
The Colorado Water Conservation Board approved $905,000 in state and regional grant funding for the WISE (Water Infrastructure and Supply Efficiency) project, including funds from seven of the state’s nine Basin Roundtables.
“We are excited and grateful for the broad, statewide support for this important project,” said Eric Hecox, executive director of the South Metro Water Supply Authority, which represents 13 water providers comprising most of Douglas County and a portion of Arapahoe County. “This is a significant part of our region’s plan to transition to a more secure and sustainable water supply, and benefits of WISE extend throughout the region and to the West Slope.”
WISE is a partnership among Aurora Water, Denver Water and South Metro Water to combine available water supplies and system capacities to create a sustainable new water supply. Aurora and Denver will provide fully treated water to South Metro Water on a permanent basis. WISE also will enable Denver Water to access its supplies during periods when it needs to. All of this will be accomplished while allowing Aurora to continue to meet its customers’ current and future needs.
“This project is reflective of the regional and statewide collaboration the State Water Plan calls for to meet the future water needs of Coloradans,” said former State Representative Diane Hoppe, chair of the Colorado Water Conservation Board. “The broad financial support from Basin Roundtables across the state reflects the cooperation and smart approach that the Denver metro area’s leading water providers have taken.”
The Basin Roundtables, created in 2005 with the Colorado Water for the 21st Century Act, represent each of the state’s eight major river basins and the Denver metropolitan area. The grants are part of the state’s Water Supply Reserve Accounts program that assists Colorado water users in addressing their critical water supply issues and interests.
Roundtables that have committed funds to WISE so far include:
- Metro Basin Roundtable
- South Platte Basin Roundtable
- North Platte Basin Roundtable
- Colorado Basin Roundtable
- Arkansas Basin Roundtable
- Gunnison Basin Roundtable
- Yampa/White/Green Basin Roundtable
“The Colorado Basin applauds the WISE participants for their forward thinking and collaborative approach,” said Jim Pokrandt, chair of the Colorado Basin Roundtable, which includes Grand Junction and Glenwood Springs. “WISE benefits not just the Front Range but the West Slope as well. The project enables the metro region to re-use its trans-mountain supplies, thereby reducing the need to look to other regions for water supply. In addition, the WISE agreement is an integral part of the Colorado River Cooperative Agreement under which the West Slope receives funding to help meet our water project and environmental needs.”
Construction on the WISE project began in June and will continue into 2016. When WISE begins delivering water in 2016:
- The South Denver Metro area will receive a significant new renewable water supply;
- Denver will receive a new backup water supply;
- Aurora will receive funding from partners to help offset its Prairie Waters Project costs and stabilize water rates; and
- The West Slope will receive new funding, managed by the Colorado River Water Conservation District, for water supply, watershed and water quality projects.
Participating South Metro Water Supply Authority members:
- Centennial Water and Sanitation District
- Cottonwood Water and Sanitation District
- Dominion Water and Sanitation District
- Inverness Water and Sanitation District
- Meridian Metropolitan District
- Parker Water and Sanita¬tion District
- Pinery Water and Wastewater District
- Rangeview Metropolitan District
- Stonegate Village Metropolitan District
- Town of Castle Rock