Roaring Fork Conservancy polls candidates on water issues | AspenTimes.com

Roaring Fork Conservancy polls candidates on water issues

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

BASALT – Wondering where candidates for state and local elected offices stand on water issues? So was the Basalt-based Roaring Fork Conservancy, which has released its first-ever Voters’ Guide to Water Issues in the Roaring Fork Watershed.

The conservancy polled candidates seeking election to six different seats that represent part or all of the Roaring Fork Valley, asking each of them the same two questions (one question has two parts, so there are really three questions) and publishing their unedited responses.

The conservancy is not endorsing any candidates, noted Rick Lofaro, executive director, but wanted citizens to hear the candidates’ views in advance of the Nov. 2 election.

“Oftentimes, water is not part of the political discussion when candidates are running. It’s often overlooked,” he said.

In his introduction to the guide, Lofaro notes that projections show Colorado’s population doubling by 2050 and water shortfalls approaching 600,000 acre feet per year, statewide, by 2030. That shortfall is enough water for 1.2 million families of four for a year, he writes.

The questions posed to the candidates are: Part 1 – What are water-related threats, issues or concerns in the Roaring Fork Watershed that affect your sphere of influence or concern you the most? What are some solutions to these threats, issues or concerns? Part 2 – What most needs to happen to create a unified voice for the Roaring Fork watershed?

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Responses come from: Rob Ittner and Jack Johnson, candidates for the District 1 Pitkin County commissioner seat; Rachel Richards, seeking re-election to the District 2 seat in Pitkin County; Garfield County commissioner candidates Tresi Houpt and Tom Jankovsky; Eagle County commissioner candidates Claudia Alexander and Sara Fisher; Colorado House District 61 candidates Kathleen Curry, Luke Korkowski and Roger Wilson; and Colorado Senate District 5 candidates Bob Rankin and Gail Schwartz.

Richards, the Pitkin County commissioners’ point person on water issues, identified state ballot measures 60, 61 and 101 as a threat to the local and statewide ability to address water needs. They would undercut the funding of the Colorado River District, among other ramifications, she contended.

Ittner urged education on water conservation, water-saving measures in new development and finding legislative ways to reward conservation actions.

He called for collaboration and civic engagement on water issues in the Roaring Fork watershed.

Johnson called for continued vigilance to protect the local watershed from further diversions to fuel Front Range development and Western Slope oil extraction, and advocated use of water rights for power generation and to maintain healthy in-stream flows.

He also said he would support “responsible and sensible” water policy projects and initiatives such as the county’s Healthy Rivers and Streams Fund and the Castle Creek hydroelectric power plant.

Johnson suggested expanding on the Ruedi Water and Power Authority model of inter-jurisdictional cooperation to lobby for the local watershed’s interests.

Printed copies of the guide will be distributed to population hubs, such as area coffee shops, according to Lofaro, or go to http://www.roaringfork.org/vote to read it online.

janet@aspentimes.com

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