Hick to address legacy questions at Water Congress conference

Author: Marianne Goodland - January 24, 2018 - Updated: January 24, 2018

White River, waterThe White River in Rio Blanco County

Thursday, Gov. John Hickenlooper will address his water legacy – the state water plan chief among them – as the Colorado Water Congress moves through the second day of its annual winter meeting.

Hickenlooper will be queried about his views on his legacy in water and the state’s water future by pollster and political analyst Floyd Ciruli during a noon appearance.

Among the topics Ciruli plans to cover:

  • Is it time to panic? What is the state of water reserves in Colorado?
  • Will the research, river basin collaboration and planning continue?
  • Will permitting of the water projects now underway continue to make progress?
  • Will the next wave of projects — many in rural and small towns — get permitted, funded and built?
  • Will the state initiate and fund a statewide conservation public education program?
  • Will the state continue its planning processes in order to lead a ballot issue funding effort? (The previous proposal, controversial in design and promotion, failed in 2003, but lessons were learned.)

The last question takes on what is always the stickiest part of any big project: just how much will this cost?

Last summer, the Water Congress took on the issue of the estimated $20 billion cost to fund projects tied to the state water plan, released in 2015. While water providers are expected to shoulder most of that cost, the state’s tab is expected to be around $3 billion. That bill could start to become due in 2020, at around $100 million per year and over the next 29 years thereafter.

Dick Brown, an economist who also works with the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority, told the Water Congress in August that eight options have surfaced that may provide the path forward to that $3 billion bill.

Those includes hikes in water rates, a beverage container fee, a state sales tax on water-related fixtures, or a boost in water tap fees that connect new homes to utility lines.

Hickenlooper’s address is scheduled to begin at noon at the Hyatt Regency Tech Center.


Photo of the White River by Jeffrey Beall, Creative Commons license, Flickr

Marianne Goodland

Marianne Goodland

Marianne Goodland is the chief legislative reporter for Colorado Politics. She's covered the Colorado General Assembly for 20 years, starting off in 1998 with the Silver & Gold Record, the editorially-independent newspaper at CU that was shuttered in 2009. She also writes for six rural newspapers in northeastern Colorado. Marianne specializes in rural issues, agriculture, water and, during election season, campaign finance. In her free time (ha!) she lives in Lakewood with her husband, Jeff; a cantankerous Shih-Tzu named Sophie; and Gunther the cat. She is also an award-winning professional harpist.