Colorado enviros pushing water conservation |

Colorado enviros pushing water conservation

Julie SutorSummit County correspondentAspen, CO Colorado
Summit Daily fileOne of the concerns about too much water diversion from the thirsty Front Range is the reduction of stream flow for the West Slope's recreation-based economy.

DENVER – The state demographer’s office predicts Colorado’s population will double to about 8 million by 2050. And that has huge implications for water use in the arid Centennial State.Statewide environmental groups are working with legislators this year to lay the groundwork for water conservation measures that will make the best use of a scarce resource.”People really understand the importance of conservation,” said Summit County native Becky Long, who works for Colorado Environmental Coalition, a statewide advocacy group. “Every drop of water you take out of a river is one you’ll never see again. Water is one of our most precious resources, and it needs to be part of the road map as we’re planning for the state’s future growth.”Among a package of state water conservation bills is a measure to continue Colorado’s existing water-efficiency grant program, which was set to expire in 2012. The program provides financial assistance to communities, water providers and other agencies for water conservation activities and projects.”This helps a lot of our West Slope municipalities to get funding for particular projects,” said Shanna Koenig, who tracks water issues for local governments in Summit County and other Western Slope communities. “We are supportive of any way we can conserve water better in the state. And the more water conservation that is done on the East Slope will potentially lead to less water being moved from the West Slope.”If passed, the bill would provide up to $550,000 per year for water conservation and efficiency projects through 2020.Conservationists are also working to create a reporting system whereby large water suppliers, like Denver Water, would gather and publish data annually on water use, number of users, conservation efforts and efficiency projects.”We don’t really have the data to tell us what’s coming out of these conservation efforts like we do on other issues,” Long said. “The goal of the bill is to get that snapshot of information each year so we can plan better.”Summit County Commissioner Karn Stiegelmeier said she is supportive of more robust water conservation efforts and plans to keep an eye on the bills as they make their way through the state Legislature.”I think water is the most critical resource in Colorado, so it makes sense for environmental groups to work collaboratively for good conservation measures throughout the state,” Stiegelmeier said. “Most people here are aware that a lot of our water goes to the East, and people get extremely annoyed when they see Kentucky bluegrass and sprinklers sending water out into the streets.”Working harder on the usage side is a better policy, she said.”It just makes sense for conservation measures to be in place before any additional diversions from the West Slope to the East Slope,” Stiegelmeier

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