Conference Note: 2012 Annual WaterWise Water Conservation Summit, Part 1

2012 ANNUAL WATERWISE WATER CONSERVATION SUMMIT

Denver, Colorado, October 19, 2012

At the 2012 Colorado Conservation Summit, a variety of speakers from Colorado’s water community presented on a diverse range of topics.  These presentations covered issues including the current state of Colorado’s water supplies, recent water conservation policy and legislation, new water fixture technology, drought planning, and the political impact of revenue loss on water conservation programs.

Colorado WaterWise, a non-profit organization that strives to promote and facilitate the efficient use of water in the State, sponsored the event.  Colorado WaterWise has been the face of water conservation since its conception in 2000 and promotes conservation practices among homeowners, business, and water providers.  By providing support to water professionals and communities across the State, WaterWise empowers them to offer more responsive and effective conservation programs to their customers, clients, and citizens.

And the Survey Says… Insight from Northern Water

First to present was Eric Wilkinson, the General Manager of the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District (“Northern Water”).  Wilkinson summarized the results of a 2010 survey of Northern Water’s municipal users.  The twenty-seven participating municipalities answered questions regarding water use, conservation, and Northern Water’s role in supporting conservation efforts.  Survey results revealed: thirteen of the twenty-seven municipalities have Colorado Water Conservation Board approved conservation plans in place; approximately sixty percent of municipalities indicated that water conservation is an element incorporated into their water supply planning; and nineteen of the municipalities claimed to have water conservation programs in place.  The various municipalities cited a variety of different reasons for participating in conservation efforts, including the belief that water conservation is “the right thing to do” to create a drought reserve, and to offset a portion of the increased demand of future growth.

According to Wilkinson, the survey results provided Northern Water with a greater understanding of the current conservation programs and an idea of how Northern Water will move forward with effective alternative conservation methods.  When discussing the solution to water conservation’s seemingly “insolvable problem,” Wilkinson ended with some light-hearted words of encouragement by joking: “you’ve got to eat the elephant one bite at a time.”

New Water Efficiency Plan Program and Colorado House Bill-1051

Kevin Reidy, the State Water Conservation Specialist for the Colorado Water Conservation Board spoke second.  Reidy presented on the current state of Colorado’s water conservation policy and legislation, focusing specifically on Colorado House Bill-1051 (“Bill-1051”).  State Senator Bruce Whitehead and State Representative Jack Pommer sponsored the bill and the Colorado legislature finally adopted Bill-1051 on February 1, 2012.  Bill-1051 builds on existing water efficiency and conservation programs and provides water planners with a more accurate picture of current conservation efforts.

Reidy emphasized data collection as a necessity for allowing the water community to work through uncertainties in Colorado’s future supply and demand.  He explained that Bill-1051 provides the means for this necessary date collection so water planners will have a more accurate picture of water efficiency efforts and access to centralized data of water efficiency plans throughout the state.  Ultimately, Reidy explained, the legislature will funnel the data gathered from Bill-1051 to the Colorado Water Conservation Board (“CWCB”), where they will provide the public with an access point for the data.  Reidy noted that this will allow water planners to acquire a comprehensive understanding of the gap between water supply and demand and an overall picture of efficiency efforts statewide.

The water community has received Bill-1051 relatively well.  The CWCB is currently creating the online database reporting tool to allow public access to the information.  Skeptics are uncertain as to whether the online database will be an effective means of relying information to the water community, however Roidy noted that only time will tell whether Bill-1051 will accomplish all that it set out to.

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