Letter: Eastern Slope water users need to pay their share | SkyHiNews.com

Letter: Eastern Slope water users need to pay their share

I greatly appreciate my friend Kirk Klancke’ s recent letter, which continues the conversation concerning the immense challenge Colorado faces in dealing with damages caused by the ever-diminishing flows of the Colorado River. I am honored to serve as the president of the Upper Colorado River Watershed Group, an organization charged with forging a collaborative effort to both protect and restore the headwaters of Grand County’s iconic river.

A key player in this collaborative effort is the Colorado River District. In his recent article, UCRWG Board Member Dave Troutman is not saying we do not support the CRD. We do support a focus on who should pay for restoring our watershed. We are also focused on defining the financial scale of the problem.

Colorado is a different place than it was when Kirk and I began our shared local political efforts nearly 50 years ago in our county. I believe Eastern Slope residents will stand with us to support preserving their backyard. In fact, today the only thing holding up the most recent Eastern Slope diversion project, which could increase diversions from the Fraser River from the present 80% to 90%, are the Boulder County Commissioners.

Over $1 billion of west slope water is transferred to the Front Range every year. Another $600 million worth of water is being proposed to be removed from Grand County if projects on the table are realized. The Front Range uses that water to support and build their economic value. The Western Slope loses economic potential through loss of water and natural resources our future depends upon.

Colorado has struggled with how to pay for the State Water Plan. An Environmental Impact fee levied on transbasin diversions is an idea worth revisiting to benefit all Western Slope counties. Precedence has been established in environmental law for such fees and has been used in our county to impose mitigation costs on projects which have the potential to damage our natural resources. Our position is citizens of the Western Slope are not responsible for paying for impacts created by Eastern Slope water users.

— Andy Miller, president of the Upper Colorado River Watershed Group

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