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Colorado establishes Water Equity Task Force

Task Force will help state better understand existing equity, diversity and inclusivity challenges involving Colorado water issues and inform the Colorado Water Plan

-Colorado Department of Natural Resources

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis and Dan Gibbs, executive director, Colorado Department of Natural Resources announced the establishment of a Water Equity Task Force to better understand existing equity, diversity and inclusivity (EDI) challenges in Colorado water issues and inform the Colorado Water Plan.

“In Colorado, water is the lifeblood of our state and critical for our economy, agriculture, wildlife and environment. This Task Force is another important piece in creating a Colorado for all and will inform our Colorado Water Plan by ensuring that future efforts in planning for Colorado’s water future are increasingly inclusive,” said Gov. Polis. “I want to thank Director Gibbs and the Water Conservation Board for their leadership on these efforts and look forward to the work ahead.”

The 2005 Water for the 21st Century Act (HB 05-1177) ushered in a new area of regionally inclusive and collaborative water planning. That spirit was further codified in the 2015 Colorado Water Plan, which ensured that all water uses in Colorado are interconnected and of equal value. At the same time, Colorado has a broad and diverse populace who are not always represented in local stakeholder groups and who need to be engaged in the forthcoming Colorado Water Plan update (set for completion in 2022).



“2020 has highlighted the need to fundamentally address deeper societal issues — including equity in water policy decisions,” said Gibbs. “This Task Force will build on the Governor’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Executive Order and efforts to build a climate equity structure; it is time to similarly create a water equity framework that can inform the Water Plan update.”

The Water Equity Task Force, managed by the Colorado Water Conservation Board, will bring together a group of 20 diverse stakeholders to meet over the next year to draft a set of concepts for consideration in the Colorado Water Plan update by the end of March 2022. The group will plan and develop a public workshop tentatively set for late 2021 to incorporate additional partners and voices to this effort. Details will be posted on the engagecwcb.org webpage.



“The Colorado Water Plan update will build on lessons learned, be more accessible, and will identify bold actions. I strongly support including equity considerations into our water planning to ensure that our efforts become more inclusive, welcoming, and communicative on a range of issues,” said Rebecca Mitchell, Colorado Water Conservation Board director.

Members of the appointed Task Force include:

Name . Affiliation Seat

Mike Weber Lower Arkansas Valley Water

Conservancy District ROUNDTABLE

Victoria Obregon CSU Pueblo COMMUNITY

Abby Burk Audubon of the Rockies ROUNDTABLE

Andrea Lopez Ute Water COMMUNITY

Sonja Chavez Upper Gunnison Water

Conservancy District ROUNDTABLE

Dr. Alina Luna Western Colorado University COMMUNITY

Barb Biggs Roxborough Water and

Sanitation District ROUNDTABLE

Ernest House Keystone Policy Center COMMUNITY

Barbara Vazquez North Platte Roundtable ROUNDTABLE

Dr. Lynette Telck Jackson County

Public Health COMMUNITY

Mike Roque Community Foundation

of San Luis Valley COMMUNITY

Rio de la Vista Salazar Rio Grande

del Norte Center

at Adams State University ROUNDTABLE

Fatuma Emmad Front Line Farming COMMUNITY

Deb Daniel Republican River Water

Conservancy District ROUNDTABLE

Manuel Heart Ute Mountain Ute – Chairman TRIBE

Mel Baker Southern Ute – Chairman TRIBE

Lee Bitsóí Fort Lewis College COMMUNITY

Mely Whiting Trout Unlimited ROUNDTABLE

Jerry Hernandez Integrated Community . COMMUNITY

Kelly Romero-Heaney City of Steamboat

Springs ROUNDTABLE

The 20-person Water Equity Task Force geographically represents the the legislatively defined nine basin regions across Colorado (representing each of the eight major river basins as well as the Denver metro area).

The membership includes nine water-experienced stakeholders with insights into Colorado’s current water planning efforts and basin roundtable structure, two members representing Colorado’s federally recognized Native American Tribes, the Southern Ute and the Ute Mountain Ute tribes, and nine members representing community leaders not traditionally engaged in water issues.


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