A winter snowpack accumulation season that lasted into late June produced one of the better runoff years in recent memory and extended the snowmelt runoff season by nearly a month. Nearly all Colorado reservoirs filled and some spilled while the U.S. Drought Monitor declared Colorado drought free statewide for the first time since 2001.
A diverse group of organizations including Western Resource Advocates, the Denver Chamber of Commerce, Denver Water and the Colorado River District launched a new statewide campaign focused on communicating the value of water in the arid West. Titled “For the Love of Colorado,” the campaign involved a water education component along with developing awareness for a November ballot initiative. This initiative would earmark most of the anticipated new tax revenues generated by allowing sports betting in the state to funding a portion of the estimated $100 million needed annually to carry out Colorado’s Water Plan.
Separately, new Governor Jared Polis continued the state’s commitment to implementing the Water Plan by earmarking $30 million in his FY 2020 budget.
Three proposed water projects in the state continued their path toward groundbreaking. Denver Water’s Gross Reservoir Expansion Project received its final federal permits in 2017. Denver Water has battled local opposition and recently filed a lawsuit against the Boulder County Commissioners who are requiring Denver Water to submit to a potentially lengthy “1041” land use permitting process.
Northern Water continued to pursue its Northern Integrated Supply Project. A Record of Decision from the Army Corps of Engineers is anticipated in early 2020.
Northern Water’s Municipal Subdistrict got closer to starting construction on Chimney Hollow Reservoir near Berthoud, Colo., as part of the Windy Gap Firming Project. With all of the necessary permits in place, the Municipal Subdistrict awaits a judge’s ruling involving administrative matters before commencing construction sometime in 2020.
Colorado’s aquatic nuisance species program continued to keep state waters ANS free. Additional state funding and new federal participation expanded the inspection program allowing for longer inspection hours while adding new reservoirs in the program.