Big money is bad water policy
The water hogs down on the Front Range, with help from Eagle County Commissioner Tom Stone, are intent on putting the cash in front of the horse, so to speak.
A bill that would put a ballot question before voters this fall authorizing $2 billion in revenue bonds to fund water projects found life in the Legislature Wednesday.
Without a doubt, the vote-heavy Front Range would pass this initiative because their bluegrass is brown and so subdivisions can keep sprouting in the High Plains desert based on an ad hoc water policy of build now, find water later.
With this kind of lending authority in place, it makes it a lot easier to go out and get water. As the saying in Colorado goes, “Water flows uphill, toward money.”
The place the Front Range wants to find water is the Western Slope. It does not want to develop its groundwater sources, and it does not want to embrace recycling of wastewater for household purposes.
The latter point is somewhat funny, considering five wastewater treatment plants pump recycled water into Dillon Reservoir, which is then pumped to Denver.
State Rep. Carl Miller, D-Leadville, who represents Summit County, had fought to keep a previous wild-money bill at bay, as have other Western Slope legislators. They had effectively killed a $10 billion bonding measure.
Then the ground shifted in the state Capitol and the $2 billion bill surfaced as something that would appear on the ballot.
Surely, Colorado needs to bolster its water storage. Much could be done by shoring up the current system so it can operate efficiently and at capacity. The Colorado River Water Conservation District attempted that route last fall when it tried a ballot question authorizing $4 million in taxes on the Western Slope. It was a good idea but a bad year to ask for money.
Senate Bill 236 is the name of the villainous legislation seeking $2 billion.
The Front Range deserves not one more drop of Western Slope water until it commits to using what it has more efficiently, and changing its development and landscaping cultures.
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