A statewide funding source for local needs
Are you aware that Colorado has a Water Plan?
Issued by Governor Hickenlooper in 2014, the Colorado Water Plan was created as a roadmap to address Colorado’s current and future water needs, including those in our community. The Water Plan was led by the Colorado Water Conservation Board and was a multi-year collaborative process rooted in extensive engineering analysis, local and statewide stakeholder input, and identified what our water needs are and how to overcome those challenges.
Now that this inclusive plan has been created and put into action, the question remains:
How does Colorado continue to fund its implementation and close the $100 million gap created by the reduced severance tax funding on an annual basis?
Currently, the Inter-basin Compact Committee, a committee arising out of the “Colorado Water for the 21st Century Act” legislation to facilitate conversations on the statewide level between the nine Basin Roundtables, is working in partnership with the Colorado Cattleman’s Association and two predominate foundations to develop a new framework geared toward funding Colorado’s water future. This leadership team comprised of local and statewide water managers, officials and experts, including the Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District, has identified healthy rivers, water quality, conservation and efficiency, sustainable agriculture, infrastructure, and Colorado compacts, as the six primary categories for the fund. There are common themes throughout these water priority areas with one being the need to improve forest health. As you know, by protecting forest health we do many things, including protect rivers and streams from sedimentation - a leading cause to the degradation of our water supply and quality. And with most of our water supply situated within national forest lands, protection and improvement of the forest is paramount to our water future.
The Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District has utilized and leveraged state funding over the years to actively address water challenges in our community and basin. Our forest and watershed health project on Monarch Pass is a great example of how statewide funds benefit all of us here.
This new source of statewide funding would be under the jurisdiction of the State of Colorado and would provide the necessary financial resources to face our future water challenges, together. It would have a broad and lasting impact on important needs in our own community and would disperse the responsibility of funding across the State. The Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District supports funding of this effort based upon a statewide approach. It looks forward to continuing its works and being a part of creating a clear path forward to funding important water and forest health projects on the state, basin, and District-wide levels.