With the gubernatorial election fast approaching, Coloradans want to know where the candidates stand on the most important issues–including the Colorado’s rivers. As crucial assets to our recreation industry and agriculture and the lifeblood of both cities and wilderness, the vitality of the river affects the entire state. In a year of drought and record low runoff and snowpack levels, Coloradans are looking to state leadership for their solutions and plans. We’ve compiled some key statements from the governor’s race that illuminate Jared Polis’s and Walker Stapleton’s stances on the river. Don’t forget to vote by or on November 6th!
Both Polis and Stapleton support the Colorado Water Plan that was created in response to an executive order from Gov. John Hickenlooper. Stapleton is committing to an “all-of-the-above” approach to water that will identify multiple new avenues for supporting and funding the Water Plan, excluding a tax raise. Polis has promised to fund, update, and implement the Water Plan and says that as governor he would renew Colorado’s focus on water conservation and pursue “out of the box ways” to secure financing beyond severance taxes.
Citing that agriculture is responsible for approximately 89% of Colorado’s annual water usage, Stapleton suggests investments in agricultural technology and best practices will save money through efficient usage and conservation. Stapleton also encourages the construction of new water storage of various sizes.
Polis has turned to the expansion of existing reservoirs and water-saving technology as his preferred methods of conservation. He staunchly opposes any transmountain diversions that do not comply with existing agreements, calling them an “existential threat.” He also urges the immediate development of a drought contingency plan to avoid or, if necessary, protect Coloradans for the impacts of a compact call on the Colorado River.