Four West Slope Roundtables Agenda
Thursday, May 26, 2011
Ute Water Conservancy District
2190 H1/4 Road
Grand Junction, CO
970-242-7491Minutes of the Meeting/Four West Slope Roundtables 5-26-1110:00 Introduction /Expectations 10:10 The Colorado River Cooperative Agreement Eric Kuhn, General Manager, Colorado River District
Peter Fleming, General Counsel, Colorado River District10:50 The Bureau of Reclamation's Colorado River Basin Study Ted Kowalski, Interstate and Federal Section Chief, Colorado Water Conservation Board11:30 Water Bank Update Steve Harris, Southwest Water Conservation DistrictNoon Working Lunch
12:20-1:00 "Filling the Gap: Commonsense Solutions for Meeting Front Range Water Needs." Bart Miller, Western Resource Advocates1:15 Colorado River Water Availability Update
1:45 How Does the West Slope Respond to the Interbasin Compact Committee Report to the Governor Michelle Pierce, Chair, Gunnison Basin Roundtable
Mike Preston, Chair
Eric Hecox, CWCB, Facilitator
Thesis: The IBCC report to the governor advocates a four-legged action plan to meet the looming demand for more municipal water supplies across Colorado, but principally on the Front Range. The imperative is this: unless something changes in water planning, the current trend points to a rapid and severe erosion of agriculture on both sides of the Divide as irrigation rights are converted to meet population growth. Nobody wants to see that future.
The IBCC reported that the agreement taking shape seeks to balance meeting municipal, agricultural, and non-consumptive needs by using a mix of:
1) New water supply development for West Slope and East Slope uses;
3) completion of IPPs, and;
4) agricultural transfers
All parts of this four-pronged framework should be pursued concurrently, the IBCC said. In this effort, the IBCC has agreed that a successful framework will be one that shares the burdens and the benefits across all water sources and demands, including consumptive and non-consumptive uses.How does the West Slope respond?
The West Slope should respond to the IBCC report and direction in order to strengthen it. If we don't, we give support to those who say the process is broken and the Roundtables should get out of the way. Interests on the Front Range are clamoring for the state to advocate for a big water development project. They also want to open up county 1041 project review powers for change. Clearly, entities in the state know how to study, engineer, permit and finance a water project. But the state does not know how to deal with conservation, reuse, ag transfer issues and land use in an equally concerted way.
1) What should be done to round out this picture?
2) What response should there be from the four West Slope Roundtables to assure that all needs, including those on the West Slope, will truly be addressed?
3) House Bill 1177 does not articulate that the IBCC form a state water plan but rather basin-to-basin discussion. If somebody wants to propose a project, should they just address the West Slope, or an individual basin and strike a compromise modeled on the Colorado River Cooperative Agreement?
3:00 Remarks by John Stulp, Interbasin Compact Committee Director, Water Adviser to Gov. John HickenlooperAddress by Michelle Pierce, Chair, Gunnison Basin Roundtable
Good afternoon. Again, my name is Michelle Pierce.
I am the chair of the Gunnison Basin Roundtable and have been for the past 6 years. I should tell you right now, however, that the following comments are mine and are not meant to represent the opinion or viewpoint of the Gunnison Basin Roundtable membership.
For those of you who don't know, I'm also the Town Manager for Lake City and have worked for the Town for the past 26 years. I mention this in the hopes that it will help you understand where I'm coming from with my remarks. My primary function with the Town is to solve problems, whether they be trivial or quite significant. Yes, these problems need to be identified. Yes, good plans must be developed and resources must be allocated. Most importantly, however, is the will and ability to implement the solutions.
Along with many of you, I have been a participant in the Roundtable process for going on six years now. In that time, we've been educated on a wide variety of water-related topics and a number of studies have either been completed or are underway. We've provided funding for a large number of projects and studies and have felt pretty good about their results. We've come to understand that our needs are diverse and that solutions must be multi-faceted. Although good progress towards meeting some of our own needs has been made, we are still falling short of the overall goal to develop and implement solutions that will assist the State of Colorado in meeting its current and future water needs.
Additionally, while the original HB 1177 legislation provided funding and other resources for the roundtable process for the first 5 years, the continued allocation of funds and other resources is now contingent upon making real progress in meeting this overall goal. Anything short of that will almost certainly result in the dissolution of the roundtable process altogether. And we will have lost this unique opportunity to foster and encourage a collaborative process among all stakeholders in the State to develop plans that will, to the greatest degree possible, provide for everyone's needs and desires.
We've talked a lot about the need for the conservation and reuse of water.
We've talked a lot about the desire to protect agriculture by finding alternatives to the practice of buying up agricultural water rights and converting them to municipal and industrial uses. We've talked a lot about the need to provide water for environmental and recreational uses.
We've acknowledged that recreation is a large economic driver for statewide tourism. We've also acknowledged that preserving and protecting our natural environment is not only important for the protection of species, but also for the feeding of our human souls.
We've talked a lot about the need to rehabilitate and expand existing reservoirs.
And finally, we've talked a lot about the critical need to protect all users from the inevitability of the administration of a call against the 1922 Colorado River Compact agreement.
But we're still missing the mark. Even if we pulled a rabbit out of our hats and were able to identify and implement plans to address each of these concerns, we still will not have tackled the elephant in the room, which is, of course, the current and future demand for water to serve communities along the Front Range and Eastern Slope.
My purpose in proposing this agenda item for today's meeting is to initiate substantive discussions about how we, as representatives of the West Slope water community, can assist the State of Colorado in meeting its current and future water needs. We all know that there is considerable pressure being placed on Front Range and Eastern Slope water providers to meet current and future demands and that these providers, in turn, are looking to the West Slope for solutions.
At the risk of oversimplifying a complex science, I want to say right here that, once you peel the layers back on the studies that have been conducted regarding water availability, it's clear to me that in dry years we have no water while in wet years we do. Doesn't it seem that part of the solution lies in doing something in those wet years that will cover our needs in those dry years?
Although my experience and knowledge in these matters are limited to my 6-year history with the Gunnison Roundtable, I see the writing on the wall. If we don't take control of our future and destiny by putting some solid ideas out on the table for a West Slope project that will directly benefit the population centers along the Front Range and Eastern Slope, the water providers in these areas certainly will.
The recent report that was released by the Colorado Water Institute from the Ag/Urban/Environmental Water Sharing initiative was enlightening, informative and contains innovative and imaginative examples of water sharing successes.
The Colorado River Cooperative Agreement that involves 34 parties with a geographic scope that ranges from the Front Range, across the Continental Divide, to the western state line is another example of water sharing success.
I believe we can use a similar approach through an innovative and imaginative partnership among west slope and east slope water interests. Given the high level of expertise and experience that exists among the members of all of our Roundtables, conservation districts, conservancy districts, water providers, IBCC and CWCB, we should not only be able to meet our statewide goals, we should be able to surpass them to the greatest possible benefit for all.
In my opinion, it's time to meet these challenges head on with open minds, open hearts, real data and real results. We have identified the problem and know where to find resources. What we seem to lack is a comprehensive plan, based on a 360-degree analysis of the problem, and the will to implement it.
The question is, are we willing to actively participate in developing this plan? Or are we simply going to continue to just say no and hope that it's enough to protect us from the unrelenting pressures being placed on us by Front Range and Eastern Slope water providers? Knowing that these providers have both money and politics on their side, doesn't this approach seem like we're sticking our heads in the sand while pretending that we've also covered our asses?
In my experience, it takes a 'can-do' attitude to identify and implement meaningful and creative solutions to any problem. My great-grandmother had a saying -- "Can't never did anything." Over the past six years, I've heard over and over again about how this or that idea or solution can't possibly work. But I now know better than that and I believe most of you do too. We've learned too much and have listened to too many points of view to uphold this belief any longer.
It's been said that insanity is the practice of continuing to do the same thing over and over again while expecting different results. Are we insane?
What if the historical dialogue in our state regarding water supply issues shifted from what we can't do to what we can? What if we were actually able to develop and implement plans that solved the problem of providing water to meet the State's current and future demands?
It's clear to me that we are now at a crossroads with the Roundtable process and that what we do from here on out will determine its ultimate fate. It's also clear to me that, regardless of our location in Colorado, we are all human beings with many of the same challenges, needs and desires regarding the use of water. So, how does the West Slope respond to the Interbasin Compact Committee Report? Its my hope that we will respond by rising to the challenges outlined in the report and bring ourselves to the table with open minds, honest dialogue, sharp intellects and a focus on the possibilities rather than the impossibilities. To quote a small piece of the report, "Unfortunately, knowing what can and needs to be done does not automatically translate into getting it done. To provide water for Colorado's future needs is not just a simple question of project funding, but also raises social and cultural issues inherent in managing increasing scarcity and competition for available water. Success will require an unprecedented commitment by all parties."
I want to close by issuing a challenge to everyone in this room to suspend your judgment and your fears and to open your minds and hearts to the possibility of working together with all interests across the state to solve our water problems once and for all. A mind-boggling and daunting task to be sure but, again, given the experience, expertise and resources that exist among us all, it's not one that is out of reach.
We can do this. We must do this. Thank you.Comments from AttendeesMike Preston SWRT
Think like a state; we are all connected; cites the importance of ag; need to look at four to five projects in detailCarlyle Currier CBRT/IBCC:
In the buy and dry of ag, don't follow bad examples; cites the importance of ag as it relates to food supply and recreational/nonconsumptive flows; if ag goes, the others go; ag is interdependent between West Slope and Front Range
Notes the IBCC's four legs of the stool and wonders if there are other possibilities;
Water will be developed, we have to decide to participate or have it decided for us
Going forward we should think outside the box: Are Flaming Gorge, Big Straw viable; must consider
Mississippi River?John McClow GBRT/IBCC:
Should 4 RTs repond? Carlyle: yes, individually and collectively and reach out to South Platte, Metro and Ark. Tom Gray YWRT:
We are at a crossroads, it would be a shame to stop now; We need to identify needs in basin and out; start work now on small projects using WSRA grants; willing to take a look at larger needs on a cooperative, bottom-up basis with everybody at the tableJeff Devere YWRT/IBCC:
There is no agreement on the IBCC Report to the Governor, it is only a vision;
On conservation is involved, it took three years of IBCC conversation to get by roadblocks; have to step back to go forward.John McClow:
Should there be a collective response? Jeff: it's a good ideaKevin McBride YWRT:
A Roundtable response would be limited, have not discussed all options; what four legsGeorge Sibley GBRT:
Cites the New Supply Section of the IBCC Report and Basin of Origin issues: how will be it be used
Wants conservation in place well organized into regional water authorities; how far along should it be?
Same question in moving water from ag to M&I Eric Kuhn IBCC:
Regarding the New Supply Subcommittee: have not talked new projects specifically but first need to consider what is the most risky, what is the most expensive, what can be put off;
Notes the zone of uncertainty; notes some say build now and do conservation later but what makes sense now: this informs the project timing element.Jim Spehar Grand Junction observer:
Conservation is the low hanging fruit and it doesn't have to be permitted like a project;
Cites issue of per capita water use on the West Slope: conservation has to start at home
Says discussions should not emphasize the Continental Divide or that will be a set backJohn Porter SWRT
Yes, the Roundtables should respond to the IBCC but where do you start. Only two basins are perceived to have waterBill Trampe GBRT/IBCC
Notes cross-Roundtable talks: some have occurred with overly optimistic expectations;
Took the IBCC four or five years to discuss its issues; need to not open old wounds, to be open to concerns;
A problem is that people hear what they want to hear; cautions that risk management pertains to all of the state;
Wonders how the free market will fit in; ultimately it controls as water moves to moneySibley to Jim Spehar:
if we provide water to the Front Range, we have to make sure they use it well and it does not become our conservation plan vs theirs. It is still the right thing to doSteve Glazier GBRT:
The IBCC is a new paradigm: a statewide approach but there are institutional barriers between quality vs quantity
Excessive water demands relate to land-use issues; we have to integrate land use with water; demand can be managed betterRachel Richards CBRT:
We are still operating in silos in Colorado among transportation, schools, etc. and competition for funding. There are equity issues as Basin of Origin legislation fails; if there is an agreement is there a one-time payoff and will water development be a boom to the Front Range and tax dollars.
There is no nexus between new water development and ag survival; don't weaken the 1041 processEric Hecox/Facilitator
Some ideas: more RT X RT meetings; a joint West Slope RT response; cooperative projectsChuck Mitisek GBRT/Redlands Power
Need emphasis on projects; there should be storage in Basin of Origin when water is taken for the Front Range; also need compact protection storage; financing of projects is a natural slow-downKevin McBride YWRT/Upper Yampa WCD
If there is no new project, our basin as a disadvantageGeorge Sibley
If there are projects, we need some sense of how much water we have; need a study to pin that down and a risk assessmentPat Wells CBRT/Colorado Springs Utilities
We need proper resource planning in the face of a population boom
We have to protect what we have if there is a compact curtailment; there should be a diverse portfolio of projects that include things like conjunctive use and projects that benefit both the East Slope and the West SlopeJohn McClow:
The governor wants a water plan in five years, how do we develop that?Stan Cazier CBRT/IBCC
Notes the history of failed Basin of Origin legislation
Notes that a West Slope response to the IBCC Report should include protection of 1041 regulations
Says the IBCC Report is not specific about protecting the West Slope
On ag transfers, he said nobody likes them but there are no incentives to prevent them
The cost of big projects is in the billions: how do we do it? We need to construct projects that work.Ken Spann GBRT
The risk of project development has to be understood as it relates to the whole state
Need to figure out risk of a compact call and thus need to look to Lake Powell, our compact water bank and judge the value of putting water there; this is not discussed
Do we fully develop 100 percent of compact entitlement or leave a cushion?Russ George CWCB/CBRT
Questions are being offered but not answered
Drill down to projects; work on a straw man
Two Roundtables should have a formal conversation; what works?
Pursue studiesEric Hecox/facilitator
What should happen next is look at portfolios with a mix of solutions. Look inward to each basin and outwardBill Trampe GBRT/IBCC
In terms of risk management, rather than force a figure to develop to, there should be a process where if we meet points , such as Powell being down, we cut down on consumption; control development rather than argue about studies; the process should be how to develop water relative to Lake Powell;
The IBCC can do this while the Roundtables do their workJohn Stulp IBCC Director
A water plan in five years is do-able
Figure out what is good for both slopes and all of Colorado
The proposed Colorado River Cooperative Agreement is a model for going forward (win-win)
The future water policies of the state should reflect that
We can't stop growth if we want a viable economy
People are still moving here so we have to respond in a meaningful way3:15 Flaming Gorge Task Force Situation Assessment Stakeholder Dialog Heather Bergman, Peak Facilitation Group Eric Kuhn Memo on Flaming Gorge Western Resource Advocates Memo on Flaming Gorge
The goal of the assessment was to talk to stakeholders around the state and determine if a Flaming Gorge Task Force would be a viable approach to the discussion about a possible Flaming Gorge Water Supply project. The Executive Committee overseeing the assessment process has recommended a free-standing, 17-person stakeholder dialogue (with State and federal agencies and project proponents participating as expert resources to the group).
It recommends that the dialogue process examine a possible Flaming Gorge water supply project in three phases:
1) Issue/interest identification;
2) assessment of threshold questions and critical barriers, and;
3)identification of preferred criteria or components of a Flaming Gorge project if one were to be built.
Phases 1 and 2 would end with a decision point about whether to proceed to the next phase. The goal of the process will not be to find agreement on whether to build a Flaming Gorge project or which such project to build. The goal of the process will be to advance understanding and awareness of the potential benefits and impacts of a Flaming Gorge project and to provide insight into ways to maximize the benefits and minimize the impacts of a project should one be built. 3:30 Dismiss