State Water Plan meeting set for Aug. 27 in Durango

A meeting on the Colorado Water Plan and the Southwest Basin Implementation Plan will be held from 6 to 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 27 at the Durango Public Library.

The meeting is hosted by the Water Resources Review Committee from the state legislature. This will be an opportunity for discussion by the review committee and the public as well as testimony on the Colorado Water Plan.

State Rep. Randy Fischer will discuss legislative intent in SB 14-115 regarding the Colorado Water Plan. He is chair of the water resources review committee.

Mike Preston, chair of the Southwest Basin Water Roundtable, will discuss the implementation plan created by that group.

Then participants will break into small groups for discussions on the Colorado Water Plan, followed by reports on those discussions.

The meeting will conclude with committee discussion and public testimony on the Colorado Water Plan.

Creation of the plan was initiated in May 2013 by Gov. John Hickenlooper with an executive order directing the Colorado Water Conservation Board to develop the plan.

Some in the State Legislature worried they would be left out of this process. SB 115 was proposed by State Sens. Ellen Roberts from Durango and Gail Schwartz from Snowmass Village. State Rep. Don Coram was the House sponsor. SB 115 requires the legislative water committee to hold hearings around the state this year and to take testimony on the plan itself in 2015.

The draft plan is supposed to be ready in December, with the final plan in December 2015.

The plan was among water supply issues discussed at the Southwest Water Conservation District's annual water seminar in Durango back in April.

One of the speakers was John Stulp, chair of the Interbasin Compact Committee, (IBCC) which is developing the plan along with nine basin water roundtables. He cited a state demographer prediction that the state population will reach 10 million by 2050, about double what it is now.

Based on current water supply, pending water projects, and savings from conservation, he said the 2050 water supply shortfall is projected to be around 350,000 acre feet.

The plan is intended to address the water demand-supply gap.

Also at the water seminar in April, Southwest Basin Roundtable member Bruce Whitehead said the IBCC was considering four strategies for the Colorado Water Plan - conservation, development of projects already started, new supplies (meaning trans-mountain diversions), and buying up ag water rights for municipal use, referred to as "buy and dry."

Whitehead said the Southwest Roundtable took a position that "development of water within each basin should be a priority before looking anywhere else."

Information is at www.coloradowaterplan.com.