$2 billion water bill needs to be drowned
Fiscally conservative Gov. Bill Owens is pretty happy he signed a bill that could create a $2 billion blank check to develop new water resources. That’s what water does to even the tightest of spenders.
As happy as Owens is, we’re scared.
Nov. 4, voters will decide whether they agree that $2 billion should be borrowed and thrown at some unknown projects. The first project has to going by 2005.
Asking people to vote on unspecific projects seems contrary to how constitutional tax law works in other state and local bond elections.
Nevertheless, if this beast passes on a flood of Front Range-blue-grass-loving votes, the Western Slope will be a top target for more water storage and shipment to the thirsty Front Range.
In signing the bill Thursday, Owens cited the spectre of Las Vegas water fountains spewing water while Front Range lawns go brown.
His solution, and that sought by many on the Front Range, is to store more water to keep it from leaving Colorado. We say Las Vegas is wasteful and so is the development-happy Front Range. A root cause of water shortage is outdoor use to recreate North Carolina landscaping in the arid West.
Now, were the money authorized under the $2 billion borrowing bill to be used for recycling Front Range wastewater into potable water, we would say go for it.
County Commissioner Tom Long, Summit County’s expert on water, says studies indicate the Denver metro area could produce up to 90,000 acre feet of water if wastewater was cleansed and put into the supply system. Denver Water, to its credit, is building a plant to treat some of the wastewater, but only to “gray” water not suitable for indoor use.
Another study shows that if all Colorado’s 198 dams under engineer’s restriction were to be repaired, another 198,000 acre feet of water storage could be created simply by filling the reservoirs behind these dams. Long points out not all of this water is stored in a place to benefit municipal use. Still, money would be well spent on this effort.
Western Slope voters must be united against the $2 billion bonding authority as a fiscally irresponsible Front Range water grab. The Front Range first needs to be more efficient with the water it has before looking for more.
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