Education and Outreach / Voters Guide to Water Issues / Eagle County Commissioner Race

Eagle County Commissioner Race - Candidate Responses

MATT SCHERR, DEMOCRAT
Eagle County Commissioner - District 1 Candidate

1. Colorado State Water Plan and Basin Implementation Plans have increased awareness and questions about Colorado’s long-range water supply. What proactive approaches are you considering to ensure the future of clean, safe water supply in the Roaring Fork Watershed and/or your area of influence? (250 word limit)

There is broad awareness of higher-level water issues and conflicts among current and potential users. Most are aware of the larger compacts, the threat of Front Range growth and its commensurate demand for West Slope water, and the central place of agriculture in water use and planning. But that awareness does not typically translate to concern, as water still comes out of the tap. Water issues and water law in the West are notoriously complex. But the dual challenges or climate change and population growth are also opportunities to frame our water issues in the context of more relatable concerns. We will need both the awareness and the support of our local stakeholders as we take aggressive action to address both water supply and demand. Climate of course affects water supply, and the Roaring Fork Valley will continue to see dramatic growth in demand from continued in-migration due to climate pressures (as we've already seen from Covid-19). So we must use land planning, conservation, and strict usage policies to manage that increased demand amidst a continuing shortage of supply. And we must also better address environmental health, as we are already more clearly seeing our interdependence on our local ecosystems.

 

2. Water, recreation and agriculture have shown to be integral parts of the economy and values of Coloradans. How will you address the sustainability of these three integral elements of western Colorado’s character in the Roaring Fork Watershed and/ or your area of influence? (250 word limit)

Historically, many saw water as a point of conflict between agricultural and domestic interests. In the past decades, however, our rural mountain populations have swelled with former rural residents, and our outdoor spaces have been discovered by urban recreators. That population growth and surge in users has its own challenges, but an upshot is a much greater understanding that water is a common bond between agricultural and recreational interests. There is now a much greater understanding of the need to "keep water west" and to conserve water generally. These types of alliances will be critical as archaic (and arcane) water laws will require a level of trust and creativity to find and work towards common goals. Initiatives to improve soil health for carbon sequestration, for example, address recreationists' desire for climate action and may provide farmers and ranchers greater utilization of their land...all while conserving water through improved moisture retention. Eagle County has been studying soil restoration and enhancement on its Brush Creek Open Space in the Eagle River Valley, and we are supporting and following other initiatives in the Roaring Fork and Eagle valleys. Our history of water use and policy has been largely adversarial and hierarchical, but our future must be collaborative, if we are to have a future at all.

 

 

KATHY CHANDLER-HENRY, DEMOCRAT
Eagle County Commissioner - District 2 Candidate

1. Colorado State Water Plan and Basin Implementation Plans have increased awareness and questions about Colorado’s long-range water supply. What proactive approaches are you considering to ensure the future of clean, safe water supply in the Roaring Fork Watershed and/or your area of influence? 

I believe this is one of the most important issues of our time. Colorado’s, and in particular the western slope’s, long-range water supply is threatened by a myriad of factors: climate change, big-river compact issues, front-range thirst, pressure on agriculture, and statewide population growth. The State Water Plan identified a large gap in supplies and projected demand; the question of course is how to deal with this. Solutions such as buy-and-dry are clear threats to the western slope and the Roaring Fork. Proposals such as demand management have large potential downsides, with recent studies showing far-reaching secondary economic impacts. I am excited about the “non-essential turf” study being undertaken by Western Resource Advocates, as I believe a flaw in the Water Plan is not enough focus on conservation. Front Range water suppliers still look to “new supply” (trans-mountain diversions) to solve the shortages, and I believe conservation on a large scale could play a much bigger role. In Eagle County, I have worked diligently to make sure that land planning is directly connected to water supply planning. We support work of the Roaring Fork Conservancy and climate change organizations, and I serve as Chair of the Ruedi Water and Power Authority, where efforts to avoid contamination of water supplies by ANS are critical (and so far successful). In addition to local work, I am committed to continued advocacy on the state and national level, through efforts such as chairing QQ, serving on CWCB work groups and as Vice Chair of the national Public Lands Steering Committee.

 

2. Water, recreation and agriculture have shown to be integral parts of the economy and values of Coloradans. How will you address the sustainability of these three integral elements of western Colorado’s character in the Roaring Fork Watershed and/ or your area of influence? 

Serving as a Director on the Colorado River Water Conservation District has made the connections between water, recreation and agriculture crystal clear. Agricultural producers own much of the water supplies, and their stewardship of their lands is a critical component of quality of life for all residents and visitors. The picture of open pasture lands surrounded by soaring mountains in the Roaring Fork Valley is the iconic picture of western Colorado. What I have learned is that recreation and agriculture are not opposing forces, and that indeed it is water that ties them together. In-Stream Flows created by leaving water in the rivers benefit both ag and recreation. Our economy is tied directly to water: skiing, fishing, rafting, agriculture, and scenic enjoyment. Water from Ruedi Reservoir is released to benefit the endangered fish in the 15-mile reach, and along the way provides opportunities for recreation. I serve on the Economy and Local Government work group for the Demand Management study process, and the connections between the health of our agricultural community and the recreation economy are clear. The statewide economy relies on western slope water. Rivers and streams are not constrained by political boundaries, and the regional work in the RF Watershed is critical to sustainability of our water supplies. I will continue to work for passage of the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy (CORE) Act, a good example of connecting the values of agriculture and recreation to promote healthy wildlife, sustainable environments, and a strong economy.

 

 

TOM CRISOFULLI, REPUBLICAN
Eagle County Commissioner - District 2 Candidate


1. Colorado State Water Plan and Basin Implementation Plans have increased awareness and questions about Colorado’s long-range water supply. What proactive approaches are you considering to ensure the future of clean, safe water supply in the Roaring Fork Watershed and/or your area of influence?
 (250 word limit)

Water is the lifeblood of any county. Without clean water, life is not sustainable in our counties. I will fight to keep our streams clean, full and not directed to the front range. County commissioners have always had a role in protecting our water. This is not a partisan issue. In the past, our Democratic Commissioner Bud Gates, may he rest in peace, and our Republican Commissioner Dick Gustafson, worked together to defend Eagle County water. I pledge to do that as well.

2. Water, recreation and agriculture have shown to be integral parts of the economy and values of Coloradans. How will you address the sustainability of these three integral elements of western Colorado’s character in the Roaring Fork Watershed and/ or your area of influence? (250 word limit)

First, we need to keep the water clean. We cannot allow what happened to the Eagle River in 1989 when the Gilman Mine leaked and turned the river toxic orange, killing fish and destroying bugs in the river. We must prevent arsenic, cadmium, lead and zinc from entering our rivers. It is important to all of us to defend our rivers and streams.

 

 

After several attempts to contact candidates via email and Facebook over a two week period, we did not receive comments from the following candidates for Eagle County Commissioner: Jennifer Woolley

Contact Us

Roaring Fork Conservancy

PHONE: (970) 927-1290
EMAIL: info@roaringfork.org

MAILING ADDRESS:
PO Box 3349
Basalt, CO 81621

PHYSICAL ADDRESS:
22800 Two Rivers Road
Basalt, CO 81621

What's New

Fryingpan Fishing Brings in $3.8 Million Annually to Local Economy Learn More

Contact