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Issues to watch with Colorado's Water Plan

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The Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) is set to deliver Colorado's Water Plan to the governor on or before Dec. 19.

At the October meeting of the Colorado River District board, general manager Eric Kuhn said that the major policy question is "what happens next?"

He identified a list a major issues going forward:

Resources: With a cash-strapped, initiative-handcuffed state budget (even in boom times), how do we finance and pay for the needed infrastructure and environmental improvements?

Conservation: The Interbasin Compact Committee (IBCC) left a number of important issues related to the implementation of conservation unresolved. Many of the Front Range municipal providers are not comfortable with the "stretch" goal that calls for 400,000 acre feet of annual savings.

Follow through on the framework on how to discuss a transmountain diversion: "Getting a loose 'consensus' on the framework (seven principles) was a major accomplishment. However, we need to follow through and have the conversations that were contemplated by the framework. I view it as a primary River District role to work with the four Western Slope roundtables and ultimately the three East Slope roundtables to provide the technical analyses needed to have fruitful conversations," Kuhn said. "Hopefully, the roundtables will continue to have a significant future role to implement the Basin Plans and have the dialogue contemplated by the framework."

Legislative changes: "I expect that there will be a continuation to 'streamline' water rights administration and implement structural changes to water law to make it easier to implement the water plan," Kuhn said. "Any legislative change will be slow and incremental. It has been pointed out that in some cases, changes can be made through management/cultural action by the State Engineer, Attorney General and CWCB."

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