Boiling down the Colorado Water Plan | AspenTimes.com

Boiling down the Colorado Water Plan

Brent Gardner-Smith
Aspen Journalism

Sixteen pages of the Colorado Water Plan are devoted to the "critical action plan."

With the action plan's language lightly rinsed and boiled down, a recipe of potential solutions emerges.

• Reduce the projected 560,000 acre-foot gap between water supply and demand to zero.

To do this, the state will support new supply projects through the regional basin roundtables and will collaboratively manage the Colorado River against a compact call by downstream states.

• Achieve 400,000 acre-feet of water conservation by 2050.

To do this, the state suggests that cities develop integrated water-conservation plans and that the Legislature require efficient residential sprinklers.

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• By 2025, 75 percent of Coloradans will live in communities that have incorporated water-savings actions into land-use planning.

To do this, the state will train interested local government officials on the subject.

• Share at least 50,000 acre-feet of agricultural water using voluntary alternative-transfer methods by 2030.

To do this, the state will educate farmers and ranchers about lease and sale options, encourage ditchwide planning, fund irrigation repairs, develop "flow agreement" language and figure out how to track saved water in the river and explore additional funding.

• Attain 400,000 acre-feet of water storage through projects in the works.

To do this, the state will provide financial support for storage projects, prioritize loans and grants, try and streamline the permitting process, participant in the National Environmental Policy Act process, assign a lead state agency and sign a memorandum of understanding with other involved state agencies.

• Cover 80 percent of the locally prioritized lists of rivers with stream management plans by 2030, and cover 80 percent of critical watersheds with watershed protection plans by 2030.

To do these things, the state will work to prevent listing under the Endangered Species Act, study recreation and develop stream management plans.

• Investigate options to raise $3 billion by 2030.

To do this, the state will seek an amendment to expand the Colorado Water Conservation Board loan program to cover other projects, explore private-public partnerships, provide lower interest loans for projects, provide $1 million a year for stream management plans and create a new all-in funding plan.

• Engage Coloradans statewide on at least five water challenges (identified by the Colorado Water Conservation Board) that should be addressed by 2020.

To do this, the state will create a fund so basin roundtables can spend money on public relations, survey Colorado citizens on water and create an innovation award program.

Under a category called "additional," the board says it will produce the Statewide Water Supply Initiative 2016, which is under way.

The water board also will plan for climate-change disaster, work on reuse projects and quietly pursue necessary legislation.

Aspen Journalism is collaborating with The Aspen Times on coverage of waters and rivers in Colorado. More at http://www.aspenjournalism.org.