Vail Daily letter: A great start | VailDaily.com

Vail Daily letter: A great start

Growing up in a small Missouri town surrounded by two extremely large lakes, water use and conservation was never a concern. Many Midwestern expatriates now living in the West can identify with the fact that we rarely gave much consideration to where our water resources originated or how they were used. Water in areas east of here is simply “ever present.” In the West we are more focused on this resource and aware of its impact on our daily lives. Without sustainable water resources, that “man, are we lucky to live here” feeling we all have on a regular basis could not happen.

Now heavily involved in the Eagle and Colorado River Basin water conservation efforts as a member of the Eagle Valley Trout Unlimited board of directors, I better understand the challenges we are faced with as a growing community moving forward. Currently Colorado is one of the only states in the West without an official state water plan, a fact that is rather shocking considering that most all Western water originates in our state. So much water begins its journey here that Colorado is often referred to as the “Headwater State.” Just last week a first draft of the Colorado Water Plan hit the desk of Gov. Hickenlooper. This new plan is intended to serve as a guide for the future use and conservation of our most critical resource … and it is long overdue.

Both Colorado Trout Unlimited and the Eagle Valley Trout Unlimited Chapter are very pleased with the progress and consider the Colorado Water Plan draft to be a great start. All involved in this process are to be recognized and commended for getting the state floating in the right direction. The plan does however seem to lack details on how we protect and sustain healthy river flows. Our needs on the West Slope are very specific; as a community we must continue our push toward having those needs properly addressed. In particular, items we feel still needing attention are:

• Funding to complete stream assessment and to support projects that will maintain and improve flows in important stream sections.

• Thorough identification of priority projects that can protect and restore streamflows while modernizing irrigation infrastructure to benefit farms and ranches.

• Conservation among water users, especially in Colorado’s growing cities.

• A commitment to avoid further transbasin diversions, which will adversely affect the environment and agriculture in Western Colorado.

Trout Unlimited has been actively participating in the Colorado Water Plan development at a grassroots level. Trout Unlimited representatives sat on many of the basin roundtables and contributed detailed recommendations for the Basin Implementation Plans. Basin Implementation Plans are critical components to the Colorado Water Plan and its effectiveness. The final public comment period for Basin Implementation Plans ends March of 2015 with the second draft of the Colorado Water Plan due in July. There is still time to have your voice heard.

Please visit http://www.coloradotu.org to learn more about the Colorado Water Plan and discover ways you can positively impact your local water. For more information on our local Eagle Valley Trout Unlimited chapter please, feel free to email me at brianbloess@gmail.com or visit us on Facebook.

Brian Bloess

President, Eagle Valley Trout Unlimited Chapter