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New bipartisan poll shows Colorado voters overwhelmingly support conservation and healthy rivers

DENVER, Colo., Oct. 13, 2014
– More than 18,000 people across Colorado have sent messages supporting smart water policies such as increased conservation and efficiency to be prioritized in the first-ever Colorado State Water Plan. Set in motion through an executive order by Gov. John Hickenlooper, the plan will determine how water is managed across Colorado for decades to come. The public comment period for this phase of the plan ended on Oct. 10.

This widespread engagement mirrors a new poll that confirms voters understand the importance of conserving water and preserving rivers and streams for future generations.

“Voters believe that Coloradans can meet their water needs by reducing water use by 10 percent by 2020 through conservation, rather than building new diversion projects,” said Lori Weigel, partner, Public Opinion Strategies. “A two-thirds majority of Colorado voters say we need to change the way the state manages our water.”

Three key findings in the poll show:
1. 90 percent of voters say a priority for the water plan should be to keep Colorado’s rivers healthy and flowing.
2. 78 percent of voters prefer using water conservation and recycling instead of diverting water from rivers in Western Colorado to the Front Range.
3. 88 percent of voters support a statewide goal of reducing water use in cities and towns by 10 percent by 2020.

As it is preparing the plan, with the first draft to be sent to the Governor in December, the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) should take note of the vast number of Coloradans who have weighed in on the future of the state’s most precious resource – water. An educational campaign by conservation organizations generated over 18,000 comments from state residents who expressed strong support for keeping the rivers intact by opposing new, large trans-mountain diversions that would pipe water from the Western Slope to the Front Range.

Governor Hickenlooper has asked that a “broad cross-section of people from across the state,” be part of the water planning process, and accordingly, both Club 20 and the Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado have sent strong messages opposed to diverting water from the Western Slope and favoring a ‘conservation first’ approach. Additionally, the Northwest Council of Governments has asked people on both sides of the Divide to “let the state know about the importance of healthy streams on the West Slope to all of Colorado by submitting comments on the Water Plan.”

Comments already sent to the water board emphasize that water conservation is faster, better and cheaper than new water projects, which would cost the state billions to build, harm the environment, drain Colorado’s rivers, and increase consumers’ water bills.

By implementing popular municipal, industrial and agricultural conservation strategies, farmers, ranchers, businesses and cities will have enough water to meet all their growing needs without harming the rivers that are fundamental to Colorado, many of the comments say. From gold-medal fishing streams to world-class skiing, the rivers in Colorado support a $9 billion outdoor recreation industry as well as habitats for wildlife and plants. New water diversion projects have the potential to negatively affect Colorado’s environment and recreational opportunities as well as dry-up essential farmlands.

The public comments and the poll show Coloradans still agree that collaborative and common-sense approaches that conserve water while still growing our cities, producing our food supply and innovating our businesses are the best strategies for the Colorado State Water Plan because, when it comes to water, all citizens are in this together.

To learn more about the Colorado State Water Plan and to review the full poll results please visit www.waterforcolorado.org

About Water For Colorado
WaterForColorado.org shares insights and expertise from a variety of organizations that research and study water conservation and natural resource issues. WaterForColorado.org offers a solutions-based approach to Colorado’s water future, and opportunities for the general public to have a voice and take action.