Issues that I focused on during the 2015 Legislative session - water, transportation, and the upkeep of state property - will continue to be priorities as we prepare this summer for the next session. This week, I am grateful that some very knowledgeable water professionals will give me a thorough tour of the South Platte River Basin.
One of my priorities has been to help with water storage on the main stem of the South Platte. My ultimate goal is to prevent the need for more transcontinental water diversions and to curb the need to buy agricultural water, which reduces agricultural production. The South Platte is flowing over its bank today, and this is a very good time for the tour. Last week when I checked, there was 39,000 cubic feet per second of water going into Nebraska, much of which can legally be stored and used in Colorado.
The tour will start in the Denver area looking at existing storage facilities and planned projects. There are plans to increase the capacity of reservoirs that already are built. That makes sense to me, and it would seem to be a slam dunk; but it seems that government bureaucracies, both at the state and federal levels, are a serious stumbling block to these projects. It will be one of my goals to see what can be done to streamline the government permitting processes for water storage.
I will also be given the background on the failed Two Forks water project that was vetoed by the President George H. Bush administration.
The next part of the tour will be to see what is existing and planned on the Northern portion of the Front Range. I will get a good look at NISP (Northern Integrated Supply Project). This is a series of projects that are well into the planning phase and need only government permission to begin construction.
Last, I will be given a tour of existing and proposed water storage in the lower regions of the South Platte. There is water storage on the tributaries, but nothing on the main stem of the South Platte where the flood waters can actually be stored. This is where I hope we can all come to a consensus for a new storage project. This will complement and go hand in hand with the Colorado Water Conservation Board and the Governor's Water Plan.
I will also try to attend all of the Interim Water Committee hearings. This committee is aptly chaired by Sen. Ellen Roberts.
The Capital Development Committee will make three tours this summer. Last week we toured state facilities in Northeast Colorado. In late June we will tour facilities in Colorado Springs, Pueblo and the Highway 50 corridor west to Gunnison. In October we will tour Southwest Colorado. I want to thank Minority Leader Brian Delgrosso for having the confidence in me to appoint me to this very important committee. Maintenance of state properties is key to good government, but unfortunately takes a backseat to new programs. It is my responsibility to remind fellow legislators that maintenance of our capital resources must be a top priority.
J. Paul Brown
State Representative HD 59