Denver, CO — Water for Colorado congratulates the Colorado Water Conservation Board (“CWCB”) and Department of Natural Resources (“DNR”) on today’s release of the 2023 update to the Colorado Water Plan.
Last year, over 5,000 Coloradans joined Water for Colorado and our coalition partners in calling on the CWCB to include in the updated Plan an increased focus on protecting Colorado’s rivers, watershed health, funding opportunities, accessibility, and equity. With today’s release of the updated Water Plan, Water for Colorado acknowledges and thanks the State for incorporating many of the recommendations that our coalition put forward on behalf of all Coloradans.
The updated Water Plan now reflects and further highlights the increasingly urgent need to address the impacts of climate change on our water resources. We are particularly encouraged to see the Plan’s focus on water conservation as a necessary starting point for meeting the water needs of the state. During the public comment period, our coalition highlighted the importance of prioritizing river health; we thank the CWCB for embracing the need for environmental flows and associated recreational opportunities.
While the renewed Water Plan does not include the measurable objectives from the 2015 plan, CWCB has maintained its commitment to tracking their success. The newly revised plan replaces the measurable objectives with bold vision statements, explicit actions, and clear deliverables. The new plan measures success in three key ways: completion of agency actions, tracking partner actions in the grant and loan portal and project database, and providing recurring updates to the underlying Water Plan data, which is available in the Technical Update.
The legislative session began with strong words on water from Governor Jared Polis, Speaker Julie McCluskie, and Senate President Steve Fenberg, and as Western states begin to more seriously address the crisis on the Colorado River, the updated plan is more important than ever. Funding Colorado’s Water Plan will create opportunities to capture and apply roughly $100 million available via federal funding to local water projects, and secure statewide investments in resilience and river health. Every Coloradan — from farmers and ranchers, to anglers and rafters, to everyone who turns on the tap in their home — will benefit from the efficient implementation of this plan.
Water for Colorado appreciates the opportunity to provide expert guidance on last year’s draft Plan. Today, we celebrate the hard work of CWCB staff and board members to develop the draft and to subsequently incorporate important feedback resulting in an improved Colorado Water Plan. We look forward to getting to work — alongside the CWCB, DNR, General Assembly, Governor’s office, and on-the-ground partners — to put this plan into action.
About the Water for Colorado Coalition
The Water for Colorado Coalition is a group of nine organizations dedicated to ensuring our rivers support everyone who depends on them, working toward resilience to climate change, planning for sustained and more severe droughts, and enabling every individual in Colorado to have a voice and the opportunity to take action to advocate for sustainable conservation-based solutions for our state’s water future. The community of organizations that make up the Water for Colorado Coalition represent diverse perspectives and share a commitment to protecting Colorado’s water future to secure a reliable water supply for the state and for future generations.