Letter: Local river group supports ballot measure
David Troutman presented an interesting perspective in his guest column “Front Range companies should foot water bill” in the May 22 issue of the Sky-Hi News. While I agree that Front Range water users should invest more to resolve impacts that their water diversions cause, I feel the Upper Colorado River Watershed Group should do a little more homework before presenting their ideas in a public forum.
First, I have to disagree with Mr. Troutman when he states in his article that the Colorado River District has not been effective in Grand County. The CRD was founded in 1937 when the West Slope woke up to the fact that congress could pass a bill allowing the Big Thompson Water Project to divert 60% of the headwaters of the Colorado River with no united West Slope voice to fight for the mitigation needed to address the impacts to our rivers.
They have been the voice of the 15 counties that the Colorado River flows through ever since. Since the turn of this century they have dedicated a lot of time and money to Grand County’s water issues. The CRD has talented employees who spend a lot of district funds working with the Grand County government, the Middle Park Water Conservancy District, our local ranching community, Trout Unlimited and other environmental organizations who are working to improve the health of the headwaters of the Colorado River. They also spend some of their limited funds on stream monitoring and education outreach right here in Grand County. The CRD is our voice at the capitol building and has had great success in lobbying for in-stream flow bills that keep more water in West Slope rivers and our local streams. Wolford Reservoir was also the CRD spending large amounts of money in Grand County to help supplement the flows in the Upper Colorado River.
Mr. Troutman’s idea of a new paradigm is not a new one. Our county government investigated the idea of an Environmental Impact Fee over 15 years ago and were advised by their attorneys that there was no legal way to impose this fee on the municipalities who own and divert water from Grand County. Changing the state Constitution to allow this fee will require the people who use this diverted water and comprise 80% of the state’s political will to approve the change. I think that this is too much of a longshot to use this possibility as a reason to not vote for the CRD ballot measure.
I agree that we need a stronger voice for our West Slope and Grand County River issues but feel that our best chance to get this voice is for West Slope residents to pay for our own representation. The Colorado River District is doing tremendous work on a very limited budget. We should increase their ability to be more effective by supporting their ballot measure.
— Kirk Klancke, president of Colorado River Headwaters Chapter of Trout Unlimited
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