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The whole story on Ref. A
There’s an easy way to figure out when someone isn’t
telling the whole story. The way I do it is by asking the person
a simple question about their story – a question I know
he can answer if he wants to. If he won’t give me an answer,
then I know I’ve asked him to tell me something he doesn’t
want me to know. I know I’m not getting the whole story.
It’s pretty simple, really.
Colorado’s Gov. Bill Owens is the highest-ranking proponent
of a ballot question that all of us in Colorado are going to
be asked to vote on in about three months. Referendum A, as
it’s being pitched (see language below), would allow the
state to float $2 billion in bonds to go toward water storage/infrastructure.
Of that money, $100 million would be designated to tighten up
the existing water system. The rest would go toward new “projects.”
Owens has a plan in mind for that $2 billion. He knows exactly
where it’s going to go, and he’s being asked by
opponents of Referendum A to tell them specifically where that
is. But he’s not answering them.
The governor has said only that the $2 billion will go toward
building small storage systems, and he’s mentioned improvements
to the existing water systems, but he won’t say where,
or exactly what those projects will be, although he could if
he wanted to. Opponents of Referendum A also are asking the
governor how communities would be compensated for the impacts
such water storage projects would have. The governor isn’t
answering that question either.
About a dozen Western Slope stakeholders and representatives
have stated their strong opposition to Referendum A. Even Republican
congressman Scott McInnis has flown in the face of his party
to openly reject the measure. These days, if a high-ranking
Republican congressman goes against a Republican governor, it’s
a good sign something’s seriously amiss.
The groups and individuals in opposition to Referendum A have
a variety of reasons for asking us to vote against the measure.
The reasons run the gamut, from vague legislation to the fact
that it’s unacceptable that the Front Range would rather
take our water than to enact measures to conserve their own.
I share these concerns, and in addition, I simply don’t
trust Referendum A or its proponents because clearly the voters
of this state are not being given the whole story.
– Edward Stern,
Questioning water conservation
To the Editor,
I have three questions regarding water in Colorado: First,
what is the goal of water conservation in Colorado? Secondly,
is there a plan, a vision or any discussion and cooperation
within Colorado for a solution to water shortages? Thirdly,
if there is a water shortage, or even a problem, or an enemy,
what or who is it?
1) Is the goal of water conservation and water distribution
in Colorado to have unending lawns and landscaping throughout
suburbia, with green golf courses, highway median strips, lawns
in front of government buildings and schools? Should we be allowing
farmers to continue to push water through their ditches, even
when they don’t need it, in often outdated and inefficient
irrigation systems? Our pristine vision of Colorado, now a little
tainted, is of singing streams and rivers, clean water, the
sounds of nature and abundant wildlife. There is no place in
these United States that can live off natural beauty alone,
but Colorado comes pretty close. But the vision, the vision,
where do we go?
Our water sources are puny compared to, say, Washington state
with it glaciers, Kauai with its rainy canyons or Maine with
its rivers and lakes.Yet Coloradoans use more water per person
than any of these places. Ours is, overall, a semi-arid climate,
and we ought to learn to live within it. As we are so often
reminded, it is vitally important that we “live within
our financial means.” This bit of wisdom seems basic to
our essentially pragmatic, puritanical and highly economized
society. Are we living within our “water means”?
So what is the goal of conservation in Colorado? I do not believe
we have one, but we should start searching for it.
2) When towns and cities implement water conservation at different
times, then lift watering restrictions at different times, this
shows an utter lack of cooperation, mutual concern and vision.
It shows greed, wastefulness and an “every-man-for-himself”
attitude. Most reservoirs in the state are not full, yet many
communities have eased up on watering restrictions. How sincere
are we about ending the drought?
Though several parts of the state have had impressive precipitation
lately, and a good deal of voluntary conservation has occurred,
our reservoir levels suggest that conservation of water should
become a permanent feature of living in Colorado. Too many in
the media seem to be congratulating Coloradoans by comparing
this year’s reservoir levels with last year’s pathetically
low water. This comparison is not much to brag about. Last summer’s
slow response to the initiation of water conservation exposes
a certain lack of expertise among our experts. Our leaders are
not leading. Alas, we are still in a drought. Normal precipitation,
or even above-average precipitation along with continued growth,
will ultimately result in a sustained water deficit.
Our actual repugnance is not reserved just for the development
of in-state jealousies and animosities against people but is
especially sharp against the wildlife, people and economies
of neighboring states. For example, the South Platte River in
Nebraska, which is so depleted here in Colorado, can barely
support a fraction of the sandhill cranes it once did. We lecture
Third World Mexico to plant crops to feed itself, yet two rivers
that start here and ultimately flow to Mexico, the Rio Grande
and the Colorado, are horribly wasted right here.
Colorado’s geographical situation is such that the majority
of our rivers begin high in our mountains, flow through our
valleys and across the plains. Then they leave our state for
surrounding states, which invariably have a lower elevation.
These are: Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona,
Utah and Wyoming. States beyond these immediate neighbors and
also heavily affected by how Colorado uses water are California,
Nevada and Texas, plus Mexico. Although these places also waste
water, is it wise of Colorado to simply ignore the legitimate
needs of so many others? In this connection, the proposal and
concept of “The Big Straw,” a reverse-flow pipeline
on the Colorado River at the Utah line, is certainly the most
selfish and ungodly proposal in America today, sure to cause
Colorado a good artillery pummeling from a justified alliance
of downstream states!
Evidently, as far as water goes, we have a “free for
all” in Colorado. Good politicians would insist upon slow
and wise growth, coupled with an acceptance of our very small
supply of water.
3) So who is to blame for our water problems as of late? All
of us. We often worry about foreign terrorists coming here and
doing dirty deeds that will harm us. My advice to them is to
stay at home and relax, as we are doing a fine job of destroying
our water supply ourselves. Yes, watering a lawn is terrorism;
just ask a fish. Recently it was said to me, “We need
as many new dams as possible, and bigger ones, and we need them
as soon as possible.” The weak point of this suggestion
is that we already have a huge number of dams, diversion ditches,
trans-basin tunnels, water pacts and so forth, and they are
managed abysmally. How would more of the same improve our situation?
Perhaps we have never had a water shortage, even during the
worst of last summer’s drought; we simply have not been
living within our watery means.
A water ethic is needed in Colorado. No matter how rich a person
or business or city is, or how badly they want water for nonessentials,
they must realize that it is morally wrong for them to have
it, and they will not have it. We must keep water in the streams
and rivers, lakes and wetlands. The health of nature depends
on it, and our own health is never really better than nature’s.
– Thomas R. Gagnon, via e-mail
Get more power from the sun
To the community
The Million Solar Roofs Initiative (MSRI) is an initiative
to install solar energy systems on 1 million U.S. buildings
by 2010. The initiative includes two types of solar technology:
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If you heat or get electricity from the sun, you can be counted
in this initiative. Contact Carol Tombari, Energy and Environmental
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