Update on San Miguel
WATER RESOURCES REVIEW COMMITTEE
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Senator Hodge, Chair, called the Water Resources Review Committee to order. See Attachment A for the meeting agenda.
03:03 PM -- Update on San Miguel, Dolores, Animas, and San Juan River Basin Issues
Michael Preston, Chair of the Southwest Basin Roundtable, provided an introduction to the geography of the region and provided the committee with a map showing the major water features (Attachment B). He discussed the Dolores water project, located in the Dolores and San Juan River Basins. The project develops water from the Dolores River for irrigation, municipal and industrial users, recreation, fish and wildlife, and hydroelectric power. The principle storage feature of the project is the McPhee Dam and Reservoir. Mr. Preston also described some of the restoration efforts taking place on the Lower Dolores River.
John Porter, member of the Southwestern Water Conservation District, discussed the district's involvement with the Colorado Water Congress. He provided the committee a handout listing Water Supply Reserve Account grants that have been provided to water-related projects and studies in the region (Attachment C). He also discussed a variety of trans-basin and trans-mountain diversions from the San Miguel, Dolores, Animas, and San Juan Basins and referenced possible basin of origin legislation.
Representative Curry responded to Mr. Porter that the committee is not recommending basin of origin legislation, but that one member of the General Assembly may be considering such legislation. She emphasized the importance of the basin roundtable process and the need for basins to communicate about diversion issues. Representative Curry asked Mr. Porter his opinion about the value of the Interbasin Compact Committee (IBCC).
Mr. Porter discussed his view of the IBCC and explained that in his opinion, the IBCC may or may not be effective in guiding future development by considering the connection between water availability and land use planning.
Steve Harris, Legislative Appointment to the Southwest Basin Roundtable, discussed the variety of opinions and positions on the IBCC when it comes to the challenge of developing a comprehensive water plan. He also discussed how IBCC funding has been important in getting water projects off the ground. He mentioned the La Plata County Water distribution system as an example of the importance of IBCC funding. He went on to discuss water availability and storage in the San Miguel Basin. He explained how there are no reservoirs in the basin and so there will likely be agricultural water conversion measures taken to address water demand.
Senator Whitehead discussed whether or not the basin roundtables could continue to function if money was not available from the Water Supply Reserve Account.
The committee discussed the Animas La Plata Project and whether the Animas La Plata River is overappropriated. Representative Curry explained that she believed that it will not be overappropriated until recreational in-channel diversion is developed.
The committee discussed Colorado's compact delivery obligations to New Mexico under the La Platta River Compact and how these obligations affect the basin.