U.S. Water News Online
DENVER -- Leaders from 27 Front Range cities signed a pact
pledging to conserve existing water supplies before turning to
eastern Colorado farms and the Western Slope for help.
Organized by the Metro Mayors Caucus, the agreement outlines broad
principles of water conservation, such as utilizing best management
practices and recognizing the environmental and economic impacts of
new water projects on mountain communities.
More than anything, local officials say, the agreement is a
significant show of good faith that Denver area cities are serious
about saving scarce Western water.
"We recognized that with the drought finally looking like it may
be over that citizens may forget about conservation," said Centennial
Mayor Randy Pye, chairman of the mayors' caucus. "We need to
constantly remind them just how valuable water is in the West and
that conservation is critical to our future. This agreement does
Modeled after the Mile High Compact, an agreement that addresses
unchecked growth in the Denver area, the water pact has been in the
works for about eight months.
"All of this work is not in response to a drought," Denver Mayor
John Hickenlooper said. "It is a sustained, focused effort that takes
into account the long-term benefit of the state."
While 27 of the 31 caucus members endorsed the pact, Thornton and
Brighton are involved in legal water disputes that prevent them from
signing right now, Pye said. Commerce City and Edgewater also have
yet to sign.
The signing of the pact follows the release of the Statewide Water
Supply Initiative, which found that Colorado likely will add another
2.8 million people by 2030. As a result, it will need at least
another 202 million gallons of water annually.
Currently, about 80 percent of Colorado's water supplies fall in
the form of snow on the Continental Divide's west side. But about 80
percent of the population lives east of the divide.
Fulfilling that need in the last century required massive
construction projects to ship water from west to east, leading to
bitter resentment among some residents of the Western Slope.
Reeves Brown, director of Club 20, a coalition of governments and
businesses in the state's western 22 counties, said he hadn't heard
of the Front Range water pact but will be interested in seeing how it
"I think it's a good thing that the metro-area leaders recognize
this issue and are trying to be visionary about it in the long term,"
Brown said. "At the same time, I don't think there are lot of people
on the Western Slope who are going to look at this and say, 'Good. We
must be safe now."'
Still, some water watchers say the pact provides a solid
foundation for future discussions about water use in Colorado.
"... I think it's good that Front Range communities are
articulating clearly that there's more conservation and efficiency in
their water planning," said Bart Miller, Western Resource Advocates'
water program director.
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