Federal Affairs

In Washington, D.C., Colorado River District staff continue to engage with the 118th Congress, Colorado’s federal elected officials, and relevant agencies, advocating for Western Colorado’s water interests.

On Tuesday, March 28, General Manager Andy Mueller testified before the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Wildlife, and Fisheries (WWF). The hearing entitled, “Why We Need to Store More Water and What’s Stopping Us,” heard witnesses provide their regional perspectives on forest/watershed health and physical water storage needs.

“Through strategic, cooperative efforts, stakeholders across the West Slope have been able to implement small-scale, effective measures to mitigate some of the immediate impacts of hotter summers and lower river levels. By applying best practices developed over decades and informed by science, we can utilize these small buckets – ranging from 10 thousand acre-feet to 100 thousand acre-feet in strategic high mountain locations – to time the releases of water to address a wide array of consumptive and non-consumptive needs along the river,” Mueller said in his testimony.

All Eyes on the Colorado River

The Colorado River flowing through Mesa County, Colorado

The Colorado River flowing through Mesa County, Colorado

Back home in Colorado in early April, a bipartisan delegation tour of the Colorado River Basin led by U.S. Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO), John Hickenlooper (D-CO), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), and Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) began in the District’s own Grand Valley.

The senators would be joined by U.S. Department of the Interior Deputy Secretary Tommy Beaudreau and Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner, Camille Calimlim Touton, to learn about the challenges facing states and water users in the Colorado River Basin.

“The Colorado River is the lifeblood of the American West and a cornerstone of Colorado’s recreation and tourism economies — and it is running out of water. We have to act soon, and together, to protect the 40 million people that rely on this incredible river,” said Senator Bennet in a press release announcing the tour. “I look forward to honest and constructive conversations throughout this trip about how all of the Basin states can step forward and be part of the solution.”

“The best solution to this crisis appears to be all seven basin states working together to find a solution that honors Tribal sovereignty, supports our agricultural producers, strengthens communities, and protects our most precious resource. This trip is about getting out and talking to the people on the frontlines of aridification in the West,” Senator Hickenlooper said in the same release.

River District staff worked closely with staff from the senate offices to ensure that Western Colorado’s water interests were represented. Staff presented to (and met with) Sens. Bennet, Hickenlooper, Lummis, and Commissioner Touton, both prior to, and during the tour.

Unfortunately for the delegation, the tour began and ended in Grand Junction as the group’s onward travel to the Lower Basin was cancelled due to extreme winds and snow.