CWCB OKs $17M for drought, water infrastructure projects

File photo of Rio Grande

DENVER — The Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) — the state’s water policy agency — considered and unanimously approved the Governor’s request for $17 million to kick-start local-level implementation of the recently updated Colorado Water Plan.

“Colorado’s Water Plan sets a vision for vibrant communities, successful farming and ranching, thriving watersheds, and climate resilient planning,” said Governor Jared Polis.  “Prolonged drought and aging water infrastructure are major barriers to achieving that vision, particularly as Coloradans face a future with more people sharing less water.

“We remain undaunted by that challenge and I’m excited that together we can help overcome these barriers by investing needed resources and seizing upon opportunities to secure funds for locally-driven aging infrastructure and drought resiliency projects.”

This newly transferred funding is on top of an additional $3 million previously authorized to the Water Supply Reserve Fund. The recommendation to significantly increase the total amount of funding ($20 million) for basin-wide and local water projects comes from severance tax revenue.

Colorado severance tax revenue is collected from non-renewable resources that are removed from the earth, including molybdenum, oil and gas, oil shale and coal.

“This infusion of funding will directly positively impact Colorado’s local communities as they continue to experience the effects of a continued drought first-hand,” said CSCB Director Becky Mitchell. “Supported projects will include improving water delivery infrastructure for efficiency and resilience in both cities and agricultural areas,”

In her statement, Mitchell thanked board members and Gov. Polis for “recognizing the need to drive this funding to our local communities on the ground where it can make the biggest impact.”

Cleave Simpson, general manager of the Rio Grande Water Conservation District, had the following reaction to the announcement.

“This is much-appreciated funding towards the Water Supply Reserve Fund account which really helps each Basin Roundtable advance some of their projects as part of their Basin Implementation Plans,” Simpson said. “I hope we can find a more permanent funding source for these projects going forward.”

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