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Headwaters Spring 2009--Water for the 21st Century

Cooperation vs. Competition

Headwaters Cover

This issue of Headwaters magazine chronicles how Colorado has entered into the most comprehensive and public dialogue ever attempted about the state's water future. Citizen roundtables are reaching across hydrologic divides to address questions which have often resulted in division rather than agreement.

Read the articles in text format below, or flip through the magazine online.

 

 

Headwaters Beyond the Printed Page

Water Education Colorado goes beyond printed material to help our readers meet and understand the views of IBCC and Basin Roundtable members.

VOICES OF THE IBCC—staff member Kristin Maharg visited with IBCC members in March 2009 to discuss their thoughts on a vision for Colorado's water future, new water supply strategies and the Colorado River compact. Listen to audio selections from these interviews here.

FACES OF THE IBCCAt the March 2009 Interbasin Compact Committee meeting, photographer Kevin Moloney asked participants to create a self-portrait using a remote camera release. We've posted a selection of these images, along with quotes from the magazine.

A Numbers Game: what the technical work surrounding the Interbasin Compact Process reveals

By Eryn Gable

As Colorado heeds forecasts that its communities and industries are outgrowing water supplies, both water providers and users have come to the table to lay down their cards. In order to play their collective hands wisely, they are hard at work putting everything down on paper. Painstaking evaluations and number-crunching may prove integral to future decision-making.

Read more: A Numbers Game: what the technical work surrounding the Interbasin Compact Process reveals

Colorado's Water for the 21st Century Act: Finally doing the right thing?

By George Sibley

Americans can always be counted on to do the right thing, after they have exhausted all other possibilities.’

- Winston Churchill

Unbelievably, the 2005 Water for the 21st Century Act sailed through Colorado's General Assembly on the first try. A deeper look at the history of Colorado water in the 20th century makes the fast passage of the Act in the early 21st century look at least as inevitable as unbelievable. On one hand, the state passed the millennial mark confronting a substantial gap between current water supplies and future needs; and on the other, a number of traditional efforts to address that gap had been stalled or shut down. Colorado had hit a stalemate, and, in Winston Churchill's words, other possibilities had been exhausted.

Read more: Colorado's Water for the 21st Century Act: Finally doing the right thing?

Envisioning an alternate future: IBCC takes aim at status quo approach to water planning

By Judi Buehrer

Few tasks could be more daunting than ensuring Colorado's future water supply. Consider these projections: The state will have nearly double the residents — from 5 million in 2008 to 10 million in 2050; climate change could decrease Upper Colorado River runoff anywhere from 5 to 20 percent by 2050; and oil shale development, if heavily pursued, may gulp more water annually than the amount stored in Lake Dillon. In short, Colorado may face a critical water shortfall by 2050 and beyond.

Read more: Envisioning an alternate future: IBCC takes aim at status quo approach to water planning

Interbasin Compact Process 101: The ins and outs of the state's latest approach to water planning

Six years ago the state of Colorado undertook its first-ever statewide assessment of local water supplies and demands through the Statewide Water Supply Initiative, commonly known as SWSI. In 2005, the Colorado Legislature voted to further that effort, passing the Colorado Water for the 21st Century Act in House Bill 1177. The legislation established the Interbasin Compact Process, which aims to develop a collective understanding of the state's overall water supply needs and to devise solutions for meeting those needs in the future.

Read more: Interbasin Compact Process 101: The ins and outs of the state's latest approach to water planning

Whose plan is it anyway?

by Allen Best

When it comes to water, Colorado has a long tradition of local planning. Communities, working individually and sometimes regionally, have managed to secure adequate water supplies—for the most part. But the state's system of prior appropriation has also led communities into competition with one another. And not everyone feels like a winner. Those who are new to the game or have interests in the non-traditional uses of water bear a hefty handicap. How can they eke their way into a system where most of the water is already allocated.

Read more: Whose plan is it anyway?

Yampa/White/Green Basin Roundtable

By Jayla Poppleton

The Yampa, White and Green rivers in northwestern Colorado are part of the Upper Colorado River system. The Yampa and White's headwaters are in Colorado, while the Green makes a brief detour south from Wyoming, through Dinosaur National Monument where it is joined by the Yampa, then flows west into Utah.

Read more: Yampa/White/Green Basin Roundtable

Southwest Basin Roundtable

By Jayla Poppleton

 

In Colorado's southwest, beyond the rugged San Juans, the mountains give way to canyons and arroyos, and elevations drop low enough that the Ute Mountain Ute tribe can grow corn south of Cortez, or farmers can raise pinto beans and sunflowers in Dove Creek. From a 10,000 square-mile area comprised of three major river basins -- the San Juan, Dolores and San Miguel -- the Southwest Basin Roundtable brings together a diverse group.

Read more: Southwest Basin Roundtable

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Water Law Resources

Guide to Colorado Water Law explores the basics of Colorado water law--learn how it has developed and how it is applied today. This, WEco's most popular Citizen's Guide, was authored by Colorado Supreme Court Justice, and WEco Board Vice President, Gregory Hobbs. Take a look or purchase a copy.

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Law Supplement Headwaters magazine a special edition of Headwaters that provides an in-depth look at Colorado water law. Browse the magazine to supplement our Citizen's Guide and your knowledge. View it here

Administration Headwaters magazine read how enforcing the law in our water-scarce state can get tricky and meet the men and women who allocate Colorado's most precious resource. Browse the issue here.

  
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