Water conservation board presents state water plan to Grand County residents
The Colorado Water Conservation Board held a presentation for the draft of their 2023 Colorado Water Plan on Sept. 15 at the Headwaters Center in Winter Park. The draft, which is the first update to the original 2015 plan, is in its final stages and will be adopted in early 2023.
Nora Flynn, a conservation board agricultural water specialist, came from Fort Collins to give the presentation. The plan, she said, helps set a vision for how the state, local governments and residents can address water challenges in the future.
“Every basin and sub-basin within Colorado is unique, has its own climate, has its own issues, has its own unique characters in the water world,” Flynn said. “What we really hope the plan does is reflect all of those different uses and what’s most important to Colorado.”
The plan itself addresses four core values through its interconnected action areas: vibrant communities, thriving watersheds, robust agriculture and resilient planning. Flynn said chapter six of the plan explains the action areas and lays out what the water conservation board can do and what they need partners to do to achieve their goals.
While stories about the Colorado River struggling to meet the demand of basin states have been in the news lately, Flynn said the Colorado Water Plan does not address issues outside of the state. She said the plan does look to combat the effects of climate change and population growth, which have fueled the river’s problems.
Flynn also spoke about the various forms of water use in Colorado and emphasized that no one area would have bear the brunt of sustainable water planning.
“We don’t value one thing above another,” Flynn said. “We know that we need it all. We know that we need water for cities, we know that we need water for people to drink, we know we need water for agriculture, we know we need water for rivers. We hope that we provide tools to help our users fulfill and find solutions for all water challenges.”
The 2015 water plan faced criticism for not being actionable and, at over 600 pages, being too long, Flynn said. The new version includes goals that Flynn called “trackable and actionable” and comes in at just over 200 pages.
“It’s written in a way that is digestible,” Flynn said. “Everyday citizens can learn a great deal about water, and we hope that they’ll be able to learn a lot about statewide issues and their own local issues in this plan.”
The period for public comment on the Colorado Water Plan ends Sept. 30. Residents can submit comments until then or attend an online listening session to voice their opinions from 4-6 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 28, at EngageCWCB.org.
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