Water supply worth a dam?

Guv floats suggestion to expand reservoirs

Gov. John Hickenlooper talks with Dave Merritt with the Colorado River District during a Club 20 luncheon at Colorado Mesa University Ballroom on Friday afternoon. Emblazoned on the water pitcher at the governor’s table is a note that reads “Western Slope Water.”



When Gov. John Hickenlooper sat down Friday for lunch with the board of directors of Club 20, the West Slope promotional organization, the pitcher at his table was emblazoned with a handwritten label: “Western Slope Water.”

“I drink that stuff every day,” Hickenlooper told his lunch companions. He later urged Club 20 members and others to participate in the development of a statewide water plan, whatever their doubts or reservations about the process.

The label was placed there by Harry Peroulis, a Club 20 member with ties to Mesa and Moffat counties, who said he was making sure the governor remembered where most of the state’s water originates.

Colorado needs to keep more of its water, Hickenlooper told the organization, which weighs in regularly on water-related matters.

One possible way to do that might be to raise the dams by 8 to 10 feet, increasing the amount of water that could be stored behind them.

It would make more sense to expand an existing project rather than pursue a new one, Hickenlooper said later.

The idea isn’t a part of the statewide water plan and he’s not throwing his support behind it, but, “intuitively, it makes sense,” Hickenlooper said afterward. He said he’d communicate it to statewide water planners.

Hickenlooper broached his suggestion in response to a call by Ray Beck of Craig that the state devote more energy to increasing storage than to encouraging conservation, but it fit within the governor’s thought process that a statewide plan could benefit from broad participation.

The “primary role” of the plan is to keep as much of the state’s water as possible, he said.

Naysayers who doubt the process of drafting such a plan are much like those who told him he couldn’t build a brewery and restaurant in Denver, “And now there are 240 federally licensed breweries” in the state.

Water managers and others involved in water management need to look at issues from different perspectives, he said.

“There are almost always options that you don’t know about,” Hickenlooper said.

The statewide water plan, which Hickenlooper kicked off last year, is to be complete in 2015.


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