Water official: make most of scarce resource

A call by Grand Valley water users for the Front Range to seek out water supplies other than from the Western Slope can’t work, the new head of the Colorado Water Conservation Board said.

Augmenting the amount of water available from another basin might be technically feasible but it would be futile in the face “of political and practical reality,” James Eklund, director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board, said Friday at a water seminar sponsored by the Colorado River Water Conservation District. About 200 people attended the seminar at Two Rivers Convention Center.

Grand Valley water officials fashioned their call for eastern Colorado to find new sources of water in response to Gov. John Hickenlooper’s call for a statewide water plan, to be complete by December 2015.

While it would be impossible to import water, Eklund said there are still possibilities to make better use of water within the state.

“We can solve our problems in Colorado,” he said in an interview, noting that additional storage will be considered in the drafting of a statewide water plan.

Colorado is projected to grow to 7 million residents by 2030, Eklund said, calling for water officials around the state to confront skepticism and work together.

People are skeptical of a statewide water plan because they fear what might happen to existing water law, but they have to seek out ways to meet in-state demands and to avoid federal interference. he said.

“The water landscape has shifted,” Eklund said. “If we want to have a different future for Colorado, it won’t happen by accident.” Coloradans, he said, in the meantime, will draw together in the face of disastrous flooding on the Front Range, especially in Boulder County.

“We’ll pull together to face this,” Eklund said.

Eklund, a Grand Junction native with family roots in Collbran and Cedaredge, was appointed to head the state water agency this year after having served as the senior deputy legal counsel to Hickenlooper and as an assistant state attorney general.


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