Basalt nonprofit quizzes candidates on two big water issues | AspenTimes.com

Basalt nonprofit quizzes candidates on two big water issues

The Basalt-based nonprofit Roaring Fork Conservancy is trying to help voters sort through the important issue of water use in the 2014 election without getting partisan.

The conservancy is distributing thousands of copies of its 2014 Voters' Guide to Water Issues in the Roaring Fork Watershed throughout the Roaring Fork Valley. This is the third election cycle that the guide has been produced.

The conservancy kept it simple by asking candidates for statewide and local offices just two questions and then limited their written responses. The questions were posed to candidates for Colorado's congressional seats, state House and Senate, governor and commissioner races in Pitkin and Eagle counties.

All candidates, including those of a third party, were approached, even when they are uncontested, such as Pitkin County Commissioner Rachel Richards.

“It’s an opportunity to make water more of a priority.”
Heather Tattersall Lewis

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Only a handful of high-profile candidates chose not to answer, such as Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Cory Gardner and incumbent Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat.

Heather Tattersall Lewis, the Roaring Fork Conservancy's watershed action director, said one or two issues often dominate in any given political race. Water often isn't that issue. The voters' guide is an effort to make water more important in the races and to educate voters about water issues, she said.

"It's an opportunity to make water more of a priority," she said.

The candidates were asked about Colorado's Water Plan, which is being created to examine long-term demands for water and outlines supply.

"What, if any, actions do you plan on taking to address this issue in the Roaring Fork watershed and/or your area of influence?" one of the questions reads.

The other question notes that water, energy and agriculture are "inextricably linked." "How will you address these three integral elements of western Colorado's character in the Roaring Fork watershed and/or your area of influence?" the guide asked.

Tattersall Lewis said the conservancy was pleased with the results.

"The voters' guide surprisingly in just two questions really does its job," she said.

Tattersall Lewis said she could tell by reading the responses which candidates follow water issues and which don't. However, the Roaring Fork Conservancy won't give endorsements.

The guide is posted on the conservancy's website at http://www.roaring fork.org. Printed versions are available at the conservancy's office at 200 Basalt Center Circle, Suite 120, across from Taylor Creek Fly Shop. They are also at coffee houses and the Basalt Regional Library.