This op-ed was co-authored by Jon Goldin-Dubois, president of Western Resource Advocates and Terry Fankhauser, executive vice president of the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association. It originally appeared in the Colorado Sun on November 23, 2020.
It may be time to amend the old adage, “Whiskey is for drinking, water is for fighting.”
On three different ballot questions in the 2019 and 2020 elections, Colorado voters set aside differences and chose to tax themselves to invest in the state’s water future. It’s clear that water wins in Colorado, and it wins because diverse coalitions unite against our significant and growing water challenges to face them together.
The collaboration of ranchers and rafters, cattlemen and city-dwellers, environmentalists and entrepreneurs has proven politically powerful at a critical time. This year, we’ve seen wildfires ravage Colorado’s forests and watersheds, making it the state’s worst fire season on record – and it’s not over yet.
Seventy-five percent of the state is currently in “extreme or exceptional” drought. Climate change is warming our summers, decreasing runoff from snowpack, and speeding up spring melts, leading to less water in our rivers. Our water supply is shrinking yet the demands for that water continue to grow.