June 2010

Troubled Water

"Dry Times" [April] is easily one of the best, most comprehensive articles on the looming Colorado water deficiency of 630,000 acre-feet. But, alas, no one does anything. They can't. With our antiquated 1880s mining and water laws, all viable solutions are illegal. Reuse, rainwater capture, desalination of tainted mine water—all of these options violate the law of prior appropriation. The water lawyers stand in the way of all meaningful progress. Hope you all enjoy bottled water. It may be Colorado's only choice by 2030.
Jack Flobeck
Chairman, Aqua Prima Center Inc., Colorado Springs

In your story on Colorado water, you quoted Department of Agriculture's Jim Miller as saying, "The best part [of the Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP)] is that it doesn't siphon water from the Western Slope; it's simply developing water from eastern supplies." The trouble with Miller's statement is that it doesn't recognize that NISP would still drain almost 40,000 acre-feet from one East Slope basin, the Cache la Poudre, to South Platte basins. We certainly have a history of taking the West Slope's water. Why should we now sanction taking water from basins on the Eastern Slope? All of our rivers are depleted. Enough of this "Drain, Baby, Drain" mind-set. We must learn to live within our means and restore our exhausted rivers.
John Bartholow
Fort Collins

While the majority of the "Dry Times" article was accurate, the section titled "Buying and Drying the Farm" contained inaccuracies and hyperbole. Northern Colorado is in the bull's-eye of development, which will occur on top of land that is currently farmed. A water project proposed for northern Colorado—the Northern Integrated Supply Project—is a development-fueling and farm-destroying boondoggle. Small cities are being encouraged to borrow more than a half-billion dollars for NISP and will then have to wildly promote themselves to attract new population growth to pay off the debt. This process will rapidly consume farmland that is currently irrigated. If we want to save farms, we should stop NISP.
Gary Wockner
Director, Save the Poudre, via e-mail

5280 spoke to more than 30 sources while working on "Dry Times," including stakeholders on every side of the debate about water in Colorado. We stand by the accuracy of our reporting. —Eds.

Where Buffalo Roam

Amanda Faison's article ["Soul Food," April] is perhaps the most comprehensive and readable piece that I've seen regarding the relationships of people, bison, the land, and the marketplace. I loved her colorful descriptions of some of the characters involved in our business and Faison's personal connection to bison.
Dave Carter
Executive Director, National Bison Association, Westminster