Callison: Summit County should fight for its water rights (letter)
Recently, Summit County Commissioner Karn Stiegelmeier gave an informative presentation, sponsored by our local Sierra Club Headwaters Group, on the Colorado Water Plan. The plan, now being finalized among groups of stakeholders throughout Colorado, will determine the future of water here.
Since the Front Range has many more people than other parts of the state, they have more political clout than other regions – unless the state hears from many of us, from other regions, regarding the plan. For example, many people there want to keep diverting water from the Western Slope to the Front Range, so it can continue growing in population, watering its lawns and golf courses and postponing the implementation of stronger water conservation and efficiency standards. Diverting water, in the form of TransMountainDiversions (TMDs), however, will have negative impacts on our mountain communities since it will take water from here and divert it to the Front Range.
Why would additional TMDs have negative impacts?
Our quality of life – and our wildlife’s survival – depend on healthy streams, rivers and lakes, with plentiful water.
Our local economies (and jobs) are largely based on our outstanding recreation and tourism opportunities – fishing, hunting, rafting/paddling, hiking, skiing, snowshoeing, brewing/distilling and investing in property near these activities. All of them depend on adequate, clean water.
Climate change is happening (regardless of who or what you think is causing it), and it will increase demand for water and decrease available supply. If we divert our water elsewhere, we will eventually have inadequate resources for our own needs.
Sending our water elsewhere means we will have less of it here; and that will be harmful to our quality of life, wildlife, economy, recreation, tourism and future prosperity. And, the Front Range wouldn’t even need our water if it first mandated stricter conservation/waste-reduction measures to save more of the water it already has.
We all have the opportunity — until Sept. 17 — to submit comments to the state of Colorado regarding the water plan. These comments will be considered in the final plan, and we need our High Country voices to be heard. Please go to http://www.coloradowaterplan.com, click on the Get Involved tab, click on Submit General Input Form and offer your comments. Those comments don’t need to be lengthy or technical; for example, just urge the state not to divert our water elsewhere – because we need it here.
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