STAFF SUMMARY OF MEETING
WATER RESOURCES REVIEW COMMITTEE
|Time:||10:05 AM to 12:37 PM|
|Place:||Western State Colorado University, Gunnison, CO|
|This Meeting was called to order by|
|This Report was prepared by|
X = Present, E = Excused, A = Absent, * = Present after roll call
|Bills Addressed: ||Action Taken:|
|Call to order|
Legislative Intent of SB 14-115
Update on the Colorado Water Plan
Small Group Discussion on the Colorado Water Plan
Reports from Small Groups
Future SB 14-115 Meetings
10:05 AM -- Call to order
Representative Fischer, Chair of the Water Resources Review Committee, called the meeting to order. At the request of the Chair, members of the Water Resources Review Committee introduced themselves.
Claudia Tomany, Associate Vice-President of Academic Affairs, Western State Colorado University, welcomed the committee and discussed the importance of water to Colorado and its economy.
10:17 AM -- Legislative Intent of SB 14-115
Representative Fischer discussed the format of committee meetings to satisfy the requirements of Senate Bill (SB) 14-115. He explained that the Water Resources Review Committee is required by this law to review statewide planning for water resources. By August 1, 2014, the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) is required to submit to the committee the scope, fundamental approach, and basic elements of a draft state water plan. The law requires the committee to hold at least one public hearing in each geographic region associated with basin roundtables to collect feedback from the public. The committee must provide a summary of the public's feedback as well as its own feedback to the CWCB by November 1, 2014. By July 1, 2015, the CWCB is required to submit a draft state water plan to the committee, after which the committee must hold at least one public hearing in each basin to collect feedback from the public. The committee must provide a summary of the public's feedback as well as its own feedback to the CWCB by November 1, 2015.
10:28 AM -- Update on the Colorado Water Plan
Rebecca Mitchell, Section Chief, CWCB, discussed Colorado's water supply challenges and the role of the Colorado Water Plan and the basin roundtables in helping the state address future water supply challenges. She distributed a timeline for the CWP (Attachment A), an update on the plan (Attachment B), and a list of questions and answers related to the plan (Attachment C). She explained that in 2013, Governor Hickenlooper issued an executive order directing the CWCB to commence work on the Colorado Water Plan. According to the executive order, the plan must promote a productive economy that supports vibrant and sustainable cities, viable and productive agriculture, and a robust skiing, recreation and tourism industry. It must also incorporate an efficient and effective water infrastructure promoting smart land use and a strong environment that includes healthy watersheds, rivers and streams, and wildlife. The board is instructed to provide a draft plan for review by the Governor's Office by December 10, 2014, and to complete the final plan by December 10, 2015.
Attachment A.pdf Attachment B.pdf Attachment C.pdf
Ms. Mitchell identified water studies that will be incorporated into the CWP including the Statewide Water Supply Initiative (SWSI). The General Assembly commissioned SWSI in 2002 to explore water supply and demand issues in each of the state's major river basins. This study, completed by the CWCB in 2004, estimated that Colorado will need an additional 630,000 acre-feet annually to meet demand in 2030, primarily for municipal and industrial purposes. She explained how the Interbasin Compact Committee (IBCC) and the basin roundtables will help develop elements of the CWP including basin implementation plans. House Bill 05-1177, also known as the Colorado Water for the 21st Century Act, established a process to address the state's growing water demand. This law created nine basin roundtables covering the Denver metropolitan area; the South Platte River Basin; the Arkansas River Basin; the Rio Grande River Basin; the Gunnison River Basin; the Colorado River Basin; the Yampa-White River Basin; the Dolores-San Miguel-San Juan River Basin; and the North Platte River Basin. Roundtable members are appointed to represent counties, cities, and water districts within the basin for five-year terms. These roundtables are charged with identifying water needs within each basin and conducting discussions with other basins to address interbasin water issues. The law also created the 27-member IBCC to facilitate negotiations between the roundtables.
Ms. Mitchell identified opportunities for the public to comment on the draft CWP and discussed deadlines to submit these comments. Additional information about the CWP, as well as a method for the public to submit comments on the plan are available at www.coloradowaterplan.com.
10:46 AM -- Small Group Discussion on the Colorado Water Plan
Lauren Riddle, Colorado State University Center for Public Deliberation, explained how the public may provide input on the CWP during the small group discussion period or during public testimony following the small group discussions. She also distributed a handout entitled "Senate Bill 115 Public Meeting - Small Group Discussion Topics, June 18, 2014" that identifies the objectives of the CWP and list questions for the small groups to consider (Attachment D).
The committee recessed to allow small group discussion concerning the CWP. The small group discussions were not recorded.
11:26 AM -- Reports from Small Groups
The committee returned from recess. A representative of each small group reported on answers to the questions listed in the handout entitled "Senate Bill 115 Public Meeting - Small Group Discussion Topics, June 18, 2014" (Attachment D).
02:31 PM -- Public Testimony
Representative Fischer invited members of the audience to testify on the draft CWP
Steve Glazer, representing himself, discussed the Colorado Joint Review Process (CJRP) to expedite state permits for water projects. The General Assembly created the CJRP in 1983 in an attempt to streamline the environmental permitting process for large energy and mining projects. As a voluntary process, the CJRP allowed sponsors of natural resources extraction, conversion, transportation, management or water development projects to submit information about the project to the Colorado Department of Natural Resources (DNR). DNR staff would then request the various federal, state and local regulatory authorities to coordinate their various permitting processes. A 1995 sunset review of the CJRP found it to be underutilized – nine projects began the process, but most never progressed past the initial review stage and none were seen through to completion. The General Assembly adopted the recommendation to sunset the CJRP during the 1996 session. Mr. Glazer urged the legislature to reenact a similar process to expedite permits for water projects.
Marlene Zanetell, representing herself, expressed concern about public education materials for the basin roundtables that identifies the possible purchase of water rights that are senior to the Colorado River Compact to enable continued front range diversions during droughts. She urged the state to encourage greater water conservation and reuse to reduce the pressure on west slope water resources. She also explained that Blue Mesa Reservoir and other elements of the Colorado River Storage Project that were built in Gunnison and Montrose Counties do not directly provide water to these communities. However, these projects provide benefits to the state as a whole.
Marc Catlin, representing himself, explained that there is common misunderstanding that the Gunnison Basin has more water than is needed by the basin. He explained how water in the basin is used and identified the benefits derived from these uses. He also explained how water conservation and water reuse may extend existing supplies and delay the need for new diversions. He urged the committee to consider the role of vegetation management to reduce consumption by nonbeneficial vegetation, such as tamarisk, to ensure that sufficient water supplies are available for the future and reduce the pressure on agricultural water rights. He also discussed the benefits of water banks and urged front range communities to reduce the use of water for lawn irrigation. He recommended that a law be passed to prohibit the use of water obtained from new transmountain diversions for outdoor water consumption, such as lawn watering.
Jennifer Bock, environmental representative on the Gunnison Basin Roundtable, and Water Program Director for High Country Conservation Advocates, distributed a written copy of her testimony (Attachment E) and urged the committee to ensure that the CWP promote funding for environmental needs assessments and increased instream flows, such as funding to increase efficiency and purchasing or leasing of water rights for instream flows. The plan should also include criteria for new diversions including a requirement that conservation and reuse be maximized prior to allowing new diversions.
Cassidy Tawse-Garcia, High Country Conservation Advocates, discussed comments received by her organization concerning the value and benefits of the Gunnison River to residents and visitors to the basin that will be submitted to Governor Hickenlooper. She also offered to provide these comments to the Water Resources Review Committee.
Garin Vorthman, Colorado Farm Bureau, urged the committee to ensure that the CWP recognize the importance of Colorado's agricultural economy and that it respect the doctrine of prior appropriation.
Donna Brosemer, Greeley Water Utilities, expressed concern about the possible role of the state under the CWP in prioritizing water projects proposed by municipalities and other water users. She urged the state to treat water users equally and not withhold state funding or permits for projects based on their priority in the CWP. Also, the CWP should respect property rights and local control. She expressed support for greater coordination between local land use planners and water providers. She explained that SB 14-17 directs the Water Resources Review Committee to study during the 2014 interim best practices to limit municipal outdoor water consumption and announced that the committee will conduct this hearing on August 6. Greeley Water Utilities and several other representatives of municipal water providers will participate in this hearing.
J. Paul Brown, Colorado Wool Growers Association, requested that the CWP respect property rights and that it encourage additional storage on the front range to ensure that Colorado is able to use its full entitlements under the South Platte River and Arkansas River compacts. He also urged the state to coordinate federal permits for water projects.
12:27 PM -- Future SB 14-115 Meetings
Representative Fischer discussed agendas for upcoming meetings of the WRRC. He also identified potential hearing dates for SB 14-115 hearings in the South Platte, the Arkansas, the Rio Grande, the Yampa-White River, the Dolores-San Miguel-San Juan, and the North Platte river basins.
The meeting adjourned.