Demand Management Conceptual Framework Elicits Ask For Continued Critique

Complex and often hotly debated, demand management discussions have popped up across the West Slope, from regional news features and seminar panels to Colorado River District board meetings. At their Fourth Quarterly meeting on October 19, River District board members held a session to discuss the details of a Demand Management marketplace concept presented by the River District’s General Manager and General Counsel.

“This was something that at our July meeting, the Board asked our staff to come up with,” Board President Marti Whitmore said, a place “to start a discussion.”

On paper, the framework was labeled as a “punching bag” by General Manger Andy Mueller. “[G]iven the often-controversial nature of demand management, staff at the River District refers to this proposal as a ‘punching bag’ i.e., something concrete to start the conversation but designed for everyone to feel free to criticize, improve upon, or reject,” he wrote.

At the board meeting, Mueller clarified the purpose for the presented draft: “Our District is not going to set up a Demand Management market. If it’s set up it is going to be set up by the State of Colorado and only then in concurrence with the other three Upper Basin states.”

Mueller continued that the framework was neither a recommendation from River District staff, nor a position taken by the Board of Directors.

The group then moved to provide constructive critique of the proposed market components. Mueller noted that the recent Demand Management Stakeholder Report provided guidance in conceptual drafting. Most notably, the framework’s ‘No Additional Trans-Mountain Diversions’ statement was something the stakeholder group agreed on unanimously.

“If we’re going to conserve use throughout the River District’s territory and throughout the State of Colorado in order to create this storage account,” Mueller said, “the last thing we want to see are additional 100% consumptive, depletive projects that take water out of our basin and consume it.”

Before adjourning, the Board expressed desire for further critique and exploration of the ideas presented. Directors indicated that they will discuss the concept with their constituents and provide additional feedback to River District Staff. The Board asked that staff incorporate feedback from the Board and public and provide an updated conceptual market structure for discussion at the Board’s next meeting in January.

Mueller pointed out the need for West Slope interests to be looked after if this process moves forward at the state level. “It is very important for our District and for our water users in our District to be engaged in this conversation to protect the interests of our water users and our community. And that’s why we’re engaged in this, that’s why we’re at the table.”

Any members of the public with constructive comments on the market structure are encouraged to provide feedback to Andy Mueller via his email, on or before December 15, 2021, so that those comments can be considered in the revisions to the market structure document.

Read the Demand Management Stakeholder Report here.

Read the Demand Management Market Structure Conceptual Proposal in the recent Board Memo here.