May 8, 2023
DENVER – The Colorado General Assembly passed bipartisan legislation today (SB23-295 Colorado River Drought Task Force) that, if signed by Governor Polis, will establish a task force to address historic drought conditions on the Colorado River.The Colorado River, which supplies drinking water to more than 40 million Americans, is in the grip of a three decade-long mega-drought. Climate change is expected to cause continued water shortages in coming years, putting Colorado’s drinking water, environment, and economy at risk.
WRA applauds this action by legislative leaders and bill sponsors Sens. Dylan Roberts and Perry Will, Speaker Julie McCluskie and Rep. Marc Catlin, as they responded to an upswelling of interest to avoid a looming water crisis. As we’ve heard now from a wide variety of voices, it’s time to take action.
WRA supported SB23-295 because:
- It recognizes historically low flows in the Colorado River and its tributaries in Colorado, and that climate change further threatens water availability for farms, communities, businesses, recreation, and fish and wildlife in Colorado.
- It focuses on the Colorado River and its tributaries on the West Slope, the key impacted geography.
- It explores ways to protect local communities and the environment while addressing other needs.
- It brings together a right-sized group of stakeholders from around the state for a focused and solution-based discussion over the summer and fall, drawing from the knowledge of:
- Farmers and ranchers
- Conservation Districts on the West Slope
- Front Range water providers that divert water from the Colorado River
- The Southern Ute and Ute Mountain Ute Tribes
- Conservation groups
- Industrial water users
- Officials from the State of Colorado
- It establishes a Tribal Sub-Task Force to ensure that Tribal water matters have appropriate space and time for their unique consideration.
- It had strong support from many interests, including the Colorado Farm Bureau, the Colorado River Water Conservation District, Northwest Colorado Council of Governments, and conservation groups.
Caitlin Weber, 505-372-4937, Caitlin.Weber@westernresources.org