Here's the letter:
Thank you for this opportunity to comment on our 2nd draft of the Colorado Water Plan.
I am encouraged that the Plan recognizes many of the values that I hope we preserve for all Coloradans:
- A productive economy that supports vibrant and sustainable cities, viable and productive agriculture, and a robust skiing, recreation, and tourism industry;
- Efficient and effective water infrastructure; and
- A healthy environment that includes healthy watershed, river, streams, and wildlife.
As we grow, how we grow is extremely important. Every basin talks about storage and I hope that state endorsement for every future water project is not automatic. The Colorado Water Plan needs common-sense criteria for future water projects and water management so that we grow smart.
Recreational water needs are currently overlooked and under-evaluated in the Plan. I ask that the State show leadership in assigning Roundtables a specific set of metrics for development, and that the state partner with stakeholders like American Whitewater to assess demands for recreation - both in defining flows that support recreational opportunities, and in developing a quantitative baseline for assessing the impact or enhancement to recreation from any future project. Currently, only the Yampa and Colorado river basins are pursuing appropriate metrics (boatable days). Until each Basin, and the State develop a common set of metrics for evaluating recreational values, and apply these metrics consistently to local stream, basin, and trans-basin planning, the Colorado Water Plan will not reach its full potential.
River based recreation, including fishing, boating, and the enjoyment of healthy riparian areas for hiking, picnicking and camping, is a core part of this economy – all which the draft Colorado Water Plan recognizes. However, the Plan does not address the economic impact of river-based recreation to the State economy, and I encourage the CWCB to honor the recreational value of water by studying and reporting economic impact data by Sector, including Recreation.
While many of the States programs help meet recreational water demands, and protect them in priority, I would ask the Colorado Water Conservation Board to support legislation to allow a Recreational In-Channel Diversion right to protect boating flows for a segment of river using a stream gauge, rather than a control structure as currently required under state law. This simple change would more easily align RICD rights with other water demands, like Endangered Species recovery programs and In-Stream Flows, and help eliminate some of the environmental concerns with building concrete structures in our rivers.
Whether any reach of stream in Colorado has any recreational needs or protections (ex. ISF or RICDs), the public’s legal rights to recreate on those streams in not fully recognized by state law. The Colorado Water Plan and the Governor’s Executive Order offer a great opportunity to clarify the public's rights to recreate on our streams and rivers, and to align the activities of CWCB with those of Colorado State Parks, Department of Outdoor Recreation Industry, and local tourism offices to protect both sufficient flows and provide safe access to high-value recreational streams.
Lastly, as our population grows, please increase funding and scope for water stewardship education. Much of the public is not aware of the magnitude of our water challenges. As a paddler, I have a direct and intimate connection with water, and I would like to change the culture and our relationship with water through comprehensive education and experience. Our often overworked rivers support so much, and yet provide priceless opportunities for self-improvement, personal challenge, and quiet contemplation. Every Coloradan must understand the value of water, not just the cost.
Thank you for your efforts in creating our Colorado Water Plan and for the opportunity to comment in this collaborative process.
And the email it was sent to, please let me know if your works. Mine was sent back to me as undeliverable. [email protected]