(Otero County, CO) -- County Commissioner Jim Baldwin will be a part of the conversation on water again soon.
Baldwin will sit on the Arkansas Basin Roundtable to have a part in
helping to accomplish the goals of the Arkansas Basin Implementation Plan (Ark BIP) and the Colorado Water Plan (CWP).
According to the website, https://www.arkansasbasin.com/,
The Roundtable is a place to talk about regional and local water issues. It also provides support to water project proponents to get money for projects that are in step with the goals of the roundtable.
Baldwin told a crowd at a recent county commissioner meeting that he feels the biggest issue right now isn't an Arkansas Basin Roundtable issue, it's a statewide issue and it's water.
"It's the state of Colorado and the Colorado river, Lake Powell in the lower region of the Colorado River are way down. We're just as dry as they are and we don't have the water to send them," Baldwin explained.
Baldwin furthered to say that the federal government is saying we need to deliver so many thousand acre feet of water and we don't have it to deliver.
"I don't know what's going to happen, it's scary to me."
Answering questions from the room, Baldwin elaborated on his concerns, explaining that we import water through the tunnels from the west and most of that water is used for municipal and ag operations. However, record amounts of snow are needed and it has to melt at the right time and speed for Southeast Colorado to get 100% of that import.
Would the flow of water to Southeast Colorado be restricted, Baldwin answered that he just doesn't know. He stated that as a member of the Arkansas Basin Roundtable they vote on what they would like to see happen and then the recommendations and wishes go to the CWCB, the Colorado Water Conservation Board. The board will then work with the federal government on what will happen.
"We don't have any authority to make that happen."
Baldwin advises writing letters to your representatives at the federal level and explain your concerns about the future of water in Southeast Colorado.
There's been concern on sustainable growth in other parts of Colorado as growth is demanding more water. Recently, Colorado Springs Utilities signed an intergovernmental agreement with Bent County to share water the Springs.
Colorado Springs isn't the only community experiencing growth needing more water.
On the roundtable's website, it states:
The Arkansas Basin has seen robust growth over the past few years. Home to two large cities – Colorado Springs and Pueblo – the Arkansas Basin has seen an increase in competition for the same scarce water resources. As a result of this urban growth, there has been an increase in the transfer of water from agricultural use to municipal and industrial (M&I) uses.
Following the South Platte Basin, the Arkansas Basin is projected to experience the largest increase in M&I water demand by 2050, requiring an increase of between 141,000 AF and 195,000 acre feet (AF) with passive conservation included.
The Arkansas Basin Roundtable serves the area shown below in the map. (source: https://www.arkansasbasin.com/)
Commissioner Baldwin will report back to Otero County on the projects planned with the Arkansas Basin Roundtable.
~Anne Boswell, firstname.lastname@example.org
Communications Coordinator, Southeast Colorado Power Association