Water and Aquatic Resources Committee
In 2002, as a response to a severe drought throughout Colorado and in the entire Colorado River Basin, the conservation community banded together to speak with a common voice in future water resource planning issues by forming the Colorado Water Caucus. The members of the Caucus include: Sierra Club, Trout Unlimited, Colorado Trout Unlimited, Environmental Defense, The Wilderness Society, The Nature Conservancy, Audubon, Western Resource Advocates, Colorado Environmental Coalition, Colorado Environment (CoPIRG), Pacific Institute, San Juan Citizens Alliance, High Country Citizens' Alliance, League of Conservation Voters, League of Women Voters, Clean Water Action and American Rivers.
The Sierra Club endorsed several publications of Caucus collaboration including Facing our Future http://www.westernresourceadvocates.org/facingourfuture/ and Filling the Gap http://www.westernresourceadvocates.org/gap/ These reports define smart water projects that meet future water needs without creating undue impacts on environmental values. The increase of water storage in Chatfield Reservoir is an example of a smart water project while the Northern Integrated Storage Project (NISP) is not.
In 2005, the Colorado legislature adopted Colorado Water for the 21st Century, HB-1177, which created 9 Basin Roundtables and the Interbasin Compact Committee (IBCC) to assess both consumptive and non-consumptive (environmental and recreational) water needs and how to address the gap between current supplies and future needs. The Club has embraced this process and participates where possible. We support smart water projects and oppose those that do not comply with Club water policies.
In 2011, the IBCC produced a report with a framework on how Colorado can meet its future water needs. This framework consists of an alternative to permanent agricultural dry-up using a strategy of rotational fallowing; conservation; indentify projects that are in their permitting process; and new water supply projects while protecting our non-consumptive needs. The Caucus is promoting the strategy that, with increased conservation and improved efficiency, new projects will not be needed within the foreseeable future.
The RMC is focused on protecting and improving instream flows throughout Colorado for environmental and aquatic life protection. We also support water rights for Recreational InChannel Diversions (whitewater parks) and public access to our rivers. We encourage our members to become more engaged with water planning in their own basins to promote more environmental and recreational water protections that are identified as con-consumptive needs.