Water and Politics: A Colorado Tradition

May 28 2010, 9:45 AM

The creeks of the rugged and isolated Dominguez Canyon Wilderness in southwest Colorado are gushing with melted snow, roaring toward the Gunnison River and, from there, the Colorado River. Rainbow trout and other fish are thriving, as are the cottonwoods in the state's newest wilderness area, according to The New York Times. In other words, it is late spring and "we have a super high abundance in diversity in these creek systems because it is a pristine watershed," says Roy Smith, chief water rights coordinator in Utah and Colorado for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. To ensure that things stay like this, even as future water demands increase, the Dominguez may secure essential legal rights to both base water flows and the seasonal swells, such as the current spring floods, under a forward-thinking plan that balances environmental concerns with those of landowners, who also depend upon the water. As that story unfolds, Scott McInnis, a Republican candidate for governor, is facing criticism in Colorado Springs for failing to keep a 2004 promise---back when he was a congressman---to support federal legislation for the sprawling city's controversial Southern Delivery System, which would bring more water for residents, according to the Colorado Springs Gazette. "It was our understanding it had his tacit approval," lifelong Republican Dave Sarton says in an opinion piece that questions why McInnis would flip-flop on the issue. ColoradoPols, meanwhile, is chiding McInnis---and the press---for failing to turn out the former congressman's water-policy writings from his stint with the Hasan Family Foundation, which paid him $150,000.