State proposal 
lays scenario 
for cross-state 
water diversion

The state water plan officials will offer to Gov. John Hickenlooper won’t identify a specific transmountain diversion, but will lay out the conditions under which one could be pursued, officials said Tuesday.

The development came out of a meeting of the Interbasin Compact Committee on Tuesday, said Jim Pokrandt, who serves on the committee and heads the Colorado River Basin roundtable.

While no transmountain diversion will be called out in the document, “there will be a lot of discussion about how to discuss that in the future,” Pokrandt said.

West Slope water officials have worried aloud that talk of a statewide water plan was simply camouflage for a diversion of water from the less populous west to the more populous east side.

To be sure, said Mesa County Commissioner Steve Acquafresca, one of the West Slope officials who has been most vocal about the plan, the lack of a project “provides a little temporary relief at best, but how can we put a transmountain diversion into the statewide water plan when nobody has a proposal?”

Water officials have taken a new approach to finding water for the growing cities east of the Continental Divide, Acquafresca said.

“What the Front Range entities seem to be pushing for is this bizarre concept of a ‘reserved transmountain diversion,’ ” a term that begs to be defined, Acquafresca said.

Any discussion of a transmountain diversion has to take into account whether a diverter has rights to the water and can obtain the permits and clearances, Acquafresca said.

“Those are mighty big hurdles to overcome,” Acquafresca said.

Individual basin roundtables will now take up questions about their own water needs and related matters, Pokrandt said.

The pressure is on to come up with a draft plan in July, a process that is forcing water officials to come to terms with their needs, Pokrandt said.

“It’s not going to be perfect, but the whole water plan is not going to be perfect,” Pokrandt said.


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If there is one thing this county will miss when Aquafresca is no longer a County Commissioner, is his vast knowledge of the Western Slope’s water issues. Being the water “wonk” that he has been, has given him great insight into the water needs of this community.  If he is elected as a Representative to the State House his focus will change to a Statewide view.  A real loss in many ways for the Western Slope.

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