November 2017 marked the two-year anniversary of the release of Colorado’s Water Plan. As I reflect on the past two years, I would be remiss not to also reflect on the many years leading up to Governor John Hickenlooper’s executive order calling for Colorado’s Water Plan in 2013. Efforts toward a statewide plan were initiated years before this formal anniversary, and I am deeply thankful for the countless hours Coloradans put into planning, developing, and implementing Colorado’s Water Plan.
The water community galvanized in an unprecedented way to rise up to the task, revealing the irrefutable importance of water to our state’s economy, environment, and quality of life. The state’s basin roundtables, the Interbasin Compact Committee, the entire water community, and general public stepped up to ensure the plan balanced the many needs and stakeholders relying on water and ecosystem services throughout our state. These partners continue to inspire me daily with their dedication to preserving and protecting our natural resources.
As a state, we set long-term, forward-thinking goals in the plan to ensure that we build a resilient future. In two short years, we have seen a remarkable uptick in both local and statewide projects and programs aimed at tackling our state’s water challenges. In this, we have seen immense progress. We all know the implementation of Colorado’s Water Plan will never be “finished” in the exact sense of the word; there will always remain work to do as the world evolves. The determined, cooperative energy that drove the water plan process toward success will continue to lead us down the long-road of implementation.
It is our mission at the CWCB to ensure that Colorado has adequate water supplies for all of our state’s needs, for present and future generations. We commit ourselves to that imperative daily to ensure that we can all continue to enjoy the things we love about living, working, and playing in Colorado. The CWCB staff present this report with dual objectives: to recognize the tremendous implementation efforts happening all around the state, and to embolden the water and innovation communities to continue to lead the ripple effect of transforming Colorado’s Water Plan from words to actions.
“In the Rio Grande Basin, there are more people that want water than there is water available. We live in a high mountain desert and every drop of water is spoken for.”
- Heather Dutton, Rio Grande Basin representative on the CWCB Board
Learn more about water in the Rio Grande Basin including groundwater management, Snotel sites, streamflow forcasting, and the importance of partnerships in Heather Dutton's article, You Can't Manage What You Don't Measure.
Left: Beartown Snotel (photo credit: Heather Dutton), right: rented radar unit (photo credit: Christi Bode)
STATE OF THE WATER STATE
Colorado Water Supply Planning and Permitting Handbook
Colorado’s Water Plan details many actions needed to ensure secure water supplies for municipalities, the environment, agriculture, and recreation in the decades ahead. One important recommendation called for improving efficiency and coordination of the water supply permitting process.
In response to this recommendation, the State of Colorado and the U.S. EPA, Region 8, jointly convened a facilitated meeting using a structure called Lean (or process improvement) to identify how to make water supply permitting more efficient. This handbook is a result of the Lean event and is intended to provide initial guidance to entities planning to meet a specific water supply need in Colorado. Learn more.
Colorado Ag Water Quality Across Colorado, farmers and ranchers are using best management practices to help keep nutrients out of lakes and streams and improve Colorado's water quality. These forward-thinking producers believe the most effective way to reach agriculture and achieve the best results is through outreach and voluntary action. Their stories and resources are now available to help other producers care for Colorado's waterways.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) and Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA) announce the release of "Colorado Ag Water Quality," an outreach project developed by Colorado State University Extension. The resources, found at www.ColoradoAgNutrients.org, include videos, a factsheet, and publications on nutrient and water quality management.
New Instream Flow (ISF) Water Rights
The CWCB is happy to announce new decreed ISF water rights!
Yellow Creek (tributary of White River) ISF was decreed to the CWCB on the weekend of October 7th. This water right will preserve northern leopard frog and mountain sucker habitat. (picture on left)
ISF water rights were decreed to the CWCB on November 11th in Rio Blanco County on East Douglas Creek and Soldier Creeks to help preserve native cutthroat trout habitat.
On November 7th, the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce hosted Business H2O that brought together business and civic leaders to discuss innovation in the water sector.
"Colorado can be on the leading edge of water innovation, but it’s going to take collaboration, entrepreneurship and investment." That was the call from the governor and leaders in water at the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce’s Business H2O.
“We can’t do this alone, but we can help convene and help facilitate,” Gov. John Hickenlooper told the audience of 200 business and civic leaders – reflecting two years after the approval of the state’s first water plan. “We need entrepreneurs, we need the innovators, we need business, we need capital and we need will.”'
Emily Morris, CEO of Emrgy, a start-up that focuses on delivering hydropower wherever water flows, presented at the event. Emrgy is running a pilot along the South Boulder Canal with Denver Water.
A LITTLE MORE BEFORE YOU RUNOFF
A Brand New Look: Water Education Colorado
The Colorado Foundation for Water Education, first founded in 2002 by an act of the state legislature, is introducing a new look that comes with a new name: Water Education Colorado. Tasked with the mission to help Coloradans understand that water is a limited resource and to help them make informed decisions, the organization’s next chapter aims to engage and inform more Colorado residents by building on the programs and trust it has developed among the water community over the last 15 years. Read more here.
Colorado Water Leaders Class of 2018
Water Education Colorado holds what is recognized as the premier professional development course in Colorado’s water community: The Water Leaders program. The 10th graduating class of Water Leaders emerged in 2017. The goal of the Water Leaders program is to positively impact the Colorado water profession by developing a pipeline of water leaders across diverse fields with the knowledge and skills to navigate the complex world of Colorado water.
Colorado River Water Users Association Annual Conference December 13-15, 2017
The Colorado River Water Users Association is hosting its Annual Conference on December 13-15 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. This year's conference will feature a multitude of informative speakers, panel discussions, and other meetings of interest to Colorado River water users. The conference is a significant meeting for key decision makers from the Colorado River Basin states.
Approximately 1,000 water leaders, policy makers, and consultants attend the conference each year! Visit their website for meeting details and logistics.
Poudre River Forum February 2, 2018
Each year, the Forum brings together those who farm on the Poudre, drink beer from the Poudre, and advocate for Poudre health to learn from one another and to explore how to move from conflict to collaboration in regards to the Poudre. Learn more here.
Staff Changes at the CWCB
Lauren Ris is the new deputy director at the CWCB. She was formerly the assistant director for water at the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) where she worked closely with the CWCB on many fronts, including developing and implementing objectives in Colorado's Water Plan, advancing legislative priorities and strategy, coordinating with the Governor's Office and internal and external stakeholders on statewide water policy issues, and a three-month stint as the CWCB's Acting Director in 2017. Lauren also brings to this role her experience as the DNR Legislative Liaison for Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the Division of Forestry, and previous work in the Federal Government and nonprofit sectors. Lauren has a master’s degree in Environmental Science and Policy from the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and Environment and a bachelor’s degree from Willamette University in Oregon. As a native of Littleton, Lauren enjoys all things "Colorado" especially hiking, skiing, and mountain biking. She is also proficient in toddler wrangling and she and her husband spend their free time chasing around their two small boys.
Rachel Pittinger, P.E. is a new project manager in the Finance Section at the CWCB. She will focus on projects in the Arkansas River Basin. Rachel is a CU Boulder graduate with over 14 years of professional engineering experience. She brings understanding and experience with Colorado water and has spent her career in the Colorado water resources field, consulting in the private sector. Rachel's experience includes water rights investigation and analysis, alternative transfer method projects, permitting, augmentation plan and change case preparation, stormwater program management, and construction management. Rachel moved to Colorado at a very young age and can't imagine calling any other state home.
Jack Landers joins the CWCB’s Stream and Lake Protection Section as a hydrographer and water resources specialist, managing the stream gauging program for new instream flow (ISF) appropriations and supporting legal protection of existing ISF water rights. Jack has worked in water resource management, aquatic ecology, and water quality research as a Hydrology Technician with the Forest Service in Montana and with the US Geological Survey in Oregon and Washington. For the past 8 months, he has worked as a Physical Scientist Intern with the CWCB. He received a bachelor’s degree in Fish and Wildlife Management from Montana State University and a master’s degree in Environmental Science from the University of Montana. Outside of work, Jack can be found exploring Colorado with a bike, skis, or fly rod accompanied by his wife and two dogs.