Colorado Water Plan | KUNC

Colorado Water Plan

LUKE RUNYON / KUNC

Last November, Coloradans voted to legalize sports betting by passing Proposition DD.

Under the new law, sports betting will begin in May this year, and Coloradans over 21 will have the option of betting on mobile apps or at casinos.

Luke Runyon / KUNC

Updated 11/6/19 at 3:13 p.m.

Proposition DD has passed with 50.7% of the vote, according to unofficial vote totals from the Colorado Secretary of State's office. The Associated Press called the race Wednesday afternoon. Starting May 2020 the state will be regulating and taxing sports gambling in the state, with the vast majority of revenue set aside for projects and programs laid out in the Colorado Water Plan. 

Luke Runyon / KUNC

Music is blaring and grills are firing up at a parking lot awash in navy blue and orange outside Empower Field at Mile High Stadium in Denver.

Todd Endicott of Lafayette stands outside an ambulance turned Broncos fan-mobile. He outfitted this orange and blue rig for tailgates. It’s plastered in life-size stickers of players, and the football team’s logos, vintage and new. 

Matt Bloom/KUNC

When Nancy and Steven Innis built their new home in Greeley, they equipped it with the latest in water conservation tech.

The automatic kitchen faucet shuts off with the wave of a hand. A drip irrigation system keeps yard plants hydrated without the wasteful runoff. Hi-tech toilets save water with different settings for big and small flushes.

Luke Runyon / KUNC

An old water cliché tells us that “water flows uphill toward money.” It’s an adage born out of people’s frustrations about who benefits when water moves around in the Western U.S., popularized by author Marc Reisner’s 1986 book, “Cadillac Desert.”

Like all persistent folksy sayings, it’s a mix of myth and truth.

But there’s at least one case where it has some validity: the phenomenon known as “buy and dry” along Colorado’s fast-growing, historically agricultural Front Range.

Luke Runyon / KUNC/Harvest Public Media

Few things are more valuable to a farmer in the arid West than irrigation water. Without it, the land turns back into its natural state: dry, dusty plains. If a fast-growing city is your neighbor, then your water holds even more value.

Farm families in Western states like California and Colorado are increasingly under pressure to sell their water. It’s been coined “buy and dry,” as water is diverted from farm fields and instead used to fill pipes in condos and subdivisions.

Buy and dry deals are usually cut behind closed doors, in quiet, unassuming meetings. A city approaches a farmer, or a farmer approaches a city, and strikes a deal. But a recent public auction in Loveland, Colorado threw the doors wide open, bringing myriad bidders and interests into one room to duke it out. It gives a glimpse of the unique stresses and opportunities farmers face in parched portions of the West.

Colorado Channel 165

Text of Gov. John Hickenlooper's 2016 State of the State address, as prepared and delivered, Jan. 14, 2016.

buoybarrel / Flickr-Creative Commons

Colorado's statewide water plan has been criticized for failing to make tough decisions about the state's biggest water issues: how new growth uses water, a new transmountain diversion from the Western Slope, and how to balance urban needs for water with a desire to preserve agriculture, which uses the majority of the state's water.

In response, those involved with the plan say that's not the point. The plan, by gathering input from across the state, is bringing together people with very different perspectives on water. By getting them to discuss the biggest issues around water in the state, it lays the foundation for better water management.

Jeffrey Beall / Flickr-Creative Commons

The second draft of the Colorado Water Plan is out. It includes plans for all nine of Colorado's water basins and will serve as a roadmap for future water storage and use.

The plan has been in the works for over two years. It was kickstarted by an executive order from Governor John Hickenlooper, with the goal of helping the state’s water basins come to the table and discuss their varying interests and ideas for water use. 

Stephanie Paige Ogburn / KUNC

The proposal to build two new reservoirs in Northern Colorado, a project known as the Northern Integrated Supply Project, reached a new waypoint with the release of an Army Corps of Engineers a draft supplemental environmental impact statement.

The analysis is an addendum and update to an environmental analysis released by the Corps in 2008. The proposal for the new reservoirs was put forward by Northern Water on behalf of several towns and water districts in the area seeking new water supplies.

In a statement, Eric Wilkinson, the general manager of Northern Water, said he was pleased "to have reached this important milestone after 12 years and nearly $15 million in expenditures by the NISP participants." 

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