All, I think it is important that folks understand the purpose of the meetings in the SW basin this week, and I encourage everyone to attend if possible.
Each Basin Roundtable is charged with developing a basin-wide water needs assessment consisting of four parts:
- An assessment of consumptive water needs (municipal, industrial, and agricultural);
- An assessment of non-consumptive water needs (environmental and recreational);
- An assessment of available water supplies (surface and groundwater) and an analysis of any unappropriated waters; and
- Proposed projects or methods to meet any identified water needs and achieve water supply sustainability over time.
This process is intended to accomplish one major thing: Find new sources of water for Colorado's growing population!
Think of it this way, if your backyard river yields 1000 acre-feet of water every year, and 84% of that goes to irrigation, 6% goes to Municipal needs, and nobody knows how much is needed for the environment or recreation - where is the state going to try and take more water? Recreation and Environment! If the state doesn't know how much is "needed" to support existing use, they will look to carve that remaining 10% off the annual yield and store it, pipe it, and use it to meet consumptive needs.
The goals of this process with the Basin Roundtables and non-consumptive Needs assessments are to:
- Identify priority areas and reaches for environmental and recreational attributes based on existing data
- Identify the quantities of seasonal flows necessary to maintain priority areas and reaches, to the extent possible with existing data, based on agreed-upon methodologies
- Outreach to interested parties about the existence of the products of this effort so that parties can use the information developed in other water planning efforts
My suggestion, to those who are able to attend meetings this week, is to
1) look carefully at the list of recreational attributes and make sure that the state has used the best available information in their identification.
2) Make sure that your favorite whitewater runs are listed and prioritized for quantification.
3) if the roundtable still needs help deciding whether to quantify the needs of recreational attributes, lean on them to do so, and offer input!
One more thought, If you are interested in affecting releases out of McPhee Reservoir, you may want to participate in the River Management Plan revision process. For more info contact American Whitewater or check out the Dolores Work Group
The NCNA will not greatly impact the management of the river, it will only provide the state with information about how we use water in Colorado. Each basin (there are nine in Colorado) will be presenting their Water Needs Assessments in the next year. Paddlers and Anglers can help protect instream flows by letting each basin know where they recreate, how much water they need to recreate, and why it should be a priority of the state to protect recreational rivers!
There is more information on the AW website if you want to bone-up before the evening meetings. Or call/e-mail me with questions an comments.
Colorado Stewardship Director
American Whitewater is the primary advocate for the preservation and protection of whitewater rivers throughout the United States and connects the interests of human-powered recreational river users with ecological and science-based data to achieve goals within our mission.