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Water solutions that follow Code of the West

Tom Zebarth - Breckenridge

I agree with your editorial Nov. 7 analyzing the results of the vote on Referendum A.

While the referendum was conceived and presented badly, the intent of addressing the wasteful water practices of the Eastern Slope, and to some extent, our own bad water practices here in the High Country, need to be addressed before water shortages in future years demand Draconian measures. 

I would like to see our own elected High Country state representatives leading the charge to introduce measures to foster conservation and efficient use of Colorado’s existing water resources.

Some of the measures suggested during the recent drought should become law. Some that come to mind:

It should be illegal to write covenants into anyone’s housing contract in the state that require water-intensive landscaping. Existing landscaping covenants requiring water-intensive lawns and plantings should be voided immediately.

Trust me, the landscaping industry will adapt to these rules and emerge even stronger. Sod farms may die, but they should.

The cost of water should increase as more is used. This should apply to commercial, government and private entities equally.

Water you dump on your lawn should not cost less than what I drink. What keeps a golf course green should not cost less than some kid’s bath water. If we want the park in front of the statehouse green, pay in full measure what every gallon of the water is worth. Excess use and waste should be expensive to the user.

The laws of nature (gravity and weather) should be encouraged to function as designed as much as possible.

In Colorado the majority of the moisture falls on the western slopes of the mountains and flows naturally west – toward California (unfortunately). One might say that the folks living to the west of the Continental Divide – including California – have more of a natural claim to that water than any city located east of the mountains.

To collect it on our Western Slope seems appropriate, but piping it through the mountains to large settlements on the eastern slopes of the Colorado mountains is slightly unnatural – certainly expensive.

Actually, for those Eastern Slope settlements to exist kind of violates the Code of the West in the first place. (Code of the West: Camp where you find good water.)

So, what am I suggesting to the politicos? How about that future Eastern Slope developments are required to prove and post bond that sufficient water exists there before they can build. Otherwise, deny the permit for development.

Oh, by the way, if this requirement encourages more development in Colorado on the Western Slope where water can be naturally collected, used, and then allowed to flow west for additional use on its way to the sea, where is the harm in that?

At least it would be logical and natural. And the Code of the West would apply.

Tom Zebarth

Breckenridge


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