Colorado Water Plan Announcement

Colorado Water Plan Announcement


Protect the Flows
For Immediate Release December 10, 2014 
CONTACT: Stephen Koenigsberg, 303-915-7301,

Colorado Business Commentary on Today’s Colorado Water Plan Announcement
Colorado water leaders have been toiling all year on the state's first water plan. The first draft of that plan is officially announced today at a formal press conference, 1:30 PM at the State Capitol by Governor Hickenlooper, CWCB Executive Director James Eklund and CWCB Board Chair April Montgomery.
Many agree the draft plan is a solid start to a secure and sustainable water future for Colorado. But in reviewing the Governor’s Executive Order and initial goals for the plan -- such as protecting healthy rivers for wildlife and recreation and making more efficient use of existing resources -- specific strategies for implementation are vague or just not there. Of concern to many is the opening left in the plan for costly, large diversions of Colorado River water from the West Slope to the Front Range.
No group has more at stake in a healthy and flowing Colorado River than members of the business coalition Protect the Flows, with many relying on the Colorado River for their livelihood. Several Protect the Flows members have been keenly involved in the CWP comment process, testifying about their business and personal connection to the river and making the case for the plan to prioritize the sizeable economic benefits a healthy Colorado River brings to the state.
For your coverage of the plan’s official “debut” today, here are statements from three PTF members (two of whom have testified at CWCB meetings), and Protect the Flows Co-Director Craig Mackey. These Coloradans represent THE business voice for the Colorado River, an essential perspective to include in the story you will write today.

John Land Le Coq, CEO of Fishpond, a manufacturer of fishing and outdoor lifestyle products, and Lilypond, a company that specializes in outdoor gear and fashionable outdoor bags, luggage and accessories for active women. Both companies are located in Denver. (Delivered testimony to the Colorado Water Conservation Board meeting in Pueblo, May 21, 2014)

“Outdoor recreation in Colorado generates $31.2 billion in revenue on a yearly basis and at the core of this economic bounty lays a healthy river system, the importance of which cannot be understated. The economic impact of river-related tourism should be a major factor in how we shape the evolving Colorado Water Plan. I urge the CWCB to make sure that as they create the plan, a water conservation-first strategy valuing clean and flowing healthy rivers is incorporated throughout. Failing that, we face the loss of a potent driver of the Colorado economy and moreover, a uniquely Colorado set of values and traditions.”

Dennis R. Saffell, Owner, Coldwell Banker Mountain Properties, Accredited Land Consultant, Winter Park, CO
(Delivered testimony at Glenwood Springs CWCB meeting September 11, 2014)

“Most people that want to buy properties in the mountains also want river access and river views, and recent studies show that riverfront properties would drop in value an average of 9.5 percent if river flows decline as predicted in the Bureau of Reclamation’s Colorado River Basin Water Supply and Demand Study. In Grand County, my firsthand experience confirms that water drives real estate values more than any other aspect, and loss of flow will absolutely decrease values for every property. Going forward, it’s clear that the Colorado Water Plan must include concrete standards to protect environmental and economic stream flows, if we are to have a healthy water future.”

Brooke Webb, Owner, Mesa Park Vineyards, Palisade, CO

“To produce the plump grapes we need for our winemaking, we are totally dependent on a healthy, flowing Colorado River, as are my peach-grower neighbors and many farmers throughout the West. We must not allow policies like new dams and diversions to suck the river dry. At this pivotal point, a final Colorado Water Plan must include detailed and decisive action steps to save the river that sustains us.”

Craig Mackey, Co-Director of Protect the Flows

“The plan is a good start, it recognizes historical shortcomings in water management and the need to evolve because all Coloradans – urban, rural, business and agriculture - are in this together. However, we feel the plan needs to incorporate detailed actions to protect our rivers and proven strategies for conservation. We will continue to work with the Governor and water board to make our voices heard throughout 2015 before a final plan is approved.”

Neither John, Dennis nor Brooke are “water wonks” but their businesses directly depend on a healthy Colorado River. Consequently how the Colorado Water Plan addresses stream health and securing river flows is of paramount importance to them, as it is to the Colorado economy.
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