Roger Wilson for Colorado
House District 61

Colorado's Water

Colorado is a dry land where water is very precious. Since 1859 Colorado has been building layers of water rights and the legal structure to handle them. The first claims were for the farms, growing cities, mining and industry. The natural systems, the streams and rivers had no rights or consideration at all until 1973. Even today water rights for the rivers themselves are often junior, insufficient or lacking entirely.

Front Range water utilities, along with the Bureau of Reclamation, have long tapped the rivers of the Western Slope with large diversion projects. The first diversions were for agriculture, followed soon by diversions for cities. Large diversions built originally for agriculture are now being increasingly changed to municipal uses.

As diversions like these increased, so did the detrimental impacts on our Western Slope streams. New projects propose to take even more water for the Front Range. The result could be rivers and streams drained and degraded to the point of ecological collapse. The once 'mighty Colorado' disappeared a long time ago. Now what river is left could be reduced to almost nothing. The same fate could soon be brought to other Western Slope rivers as well.

Colorado's population is expected to double by the mid century, with most of that growth along the Front Range. Energy development on the Western Slope, such as oil shale extraction, could require more water as well. Meanwhile we face the prospect of a drier future, with less water to supply these growing needs. And we will still need water for the health of our Western Slope rivers and recreation based economy.

We can no longer afford to deal with our water in a 'business as usual' manner. The stakes are too high. Solutions founded in 19th century values no longer fit the problems or values we have in the 21st century. We need new thinking and new solutions if we are to provide adequate water for our cities, farms and rivers when facing the realities of today and tomorrow.

As your representative I will:

  • Work to educate the citizens of Colorado and my fellow legislators about the value of providing sufficient surface flows in Western Slope waterways to maintain the mountain ecology, recreation, and agriculture.
  • Sponsor and support legislation to clearly define sufficient surface flows with the intent to secure consistent and adequate supplies of our mountain water.
  • Sponsor and support measures to establish rights for the environment and guarantee our mountain heritage will not be denied to our grandchildren and to their grandchildren.


© 2010 Committee to Elect Roger Wilson