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

Garfield County Commissioner Race - Candidate Responses

JOHN MARTIN, REPUBLICAN
Garfield 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?  

Proactive approach has been to first identify the critical biological resources in the Roaring Fork valley by using professional partners such as the Roaring Fork Conservancy and others. Information was gather over several years. Then work with agencies, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, NRCS, Colorado River District, BLM, USFS, USGS,CRWR, CWCB, FEMA and property owners and others. Using the expertise’s these agencies the urgent action needs were identified. First improving public education and understanding of needed programs and approaches to solve these urgent action needs. Adjustments to local land use made. Work with FEMA on drought and flood by use of GIA mapping. Partner with USGS and Colorado Water Resource offices to obtain compile and utilize data on groundwater availability and sustainability. Work thru these partners and landowners to sustain and improve groundwater recharge. Garfield County purchases water right from Ruedi reservoir to assist in biological health of the fish, plant and animal habitats in the Roaring Fork, Frying Pan and Colorado rivers by timing needed water releases to protect the uses from untimely low water calls. This also protects municipal water, as well as, recreational uses at low water times. I will continue all these and others efforts and will continue working with partners on ways to protect calls on the Colorado River.

 

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? 

The responsibility of ensuring the goals and needs fall to a variety of organizations and government agencies as pointed out in the Roaring Fork Watershed Plan. Garfield County has been and is still implementing changes in Land use regulations, educating users and non-users, sit on the Colorado River District Board, Colorado Water Plan Board, as other water related boards. We continue to fund local Soil Conservation boards, Roaring Fork Conservancy, Silt Water Conservancy, West divide water, partners with USGS placing meters and equipment in the Colorado River, Support and commit to public education programs, such as eradicate and control invasive species, weed cost share program, the need to minimizing point source pollution, importance of riparian habitat. We continue to gather, receive, and share data on water uses and trends and the impacts of proposed future uses with and from our partners.  We also support and defend Colorado’s present water rights and priority system. We have many partners and it will all to implement strategies and to achieve the goal of clean and sustainable water for now and the future. Happy to say I have been a part of this proactive and protection plan and like to continue being a part of the solution.

 

 

BEATRIZ SOTO, DEMOCRAT
Garfield 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?  

Conservation and demand management would be my top priority, keeping our rivers and streams healthy, protect and foster good stewardship of one of our most precious resources. We will continue to fight to keep water on the west slope, ensuring adequate water supplies for farmers and ranchers as well as our recreation users. Protecting our streams for fish, wildlife and our aquatic environment, by maintaining river levels and water quality.

Additionally, we must focus on the main factor affecting our water supply and address it immediately or the struggle to protect our water will only get harder in the years to come, an unstable and drier climate. We need bold climate action to protect our water sheds. Due to a hotter and drier reality, which we have all witnessed. We have had two of the worst water years on record in the past 3 years. The current drought started in 2000, and has included five of the driest years on record in our basin, we’ve seen a significant decline in water flows. We have lost a month of winter over the past decade, we are at -35% snowpack, those are millions of gallons not stored in the most efficient and natural way, this means a longer growing season, with more water requirements and less moisture in the soil. We now have more demand for our precious resource. We need to think about the future of our community and our water, 100 years, 200 years and much beyond that.

 

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? 

Protecting our water is imperative to our livelihoods and future. We need to continue to work together and bring in more voices to the fight to keep the water on the west Slope. I support 7A Colorado River District’s ballot question this election asking for an increase in their mill levy. I will continue to support and work with the Roaring Fork Conservancy and Colorado Watershed Council two non-partisan non-profits whose mission it is to protect the watersheds in Garfield County. I’m personally excited about the Recreational River Guide and expanding our water quality monitoring sites proposed in the Integrated Water Management Plan that will be finalized by January 2021 and has numerous future projects that have been developed by a broad spectrum of stakeholders

Valuing, educating and working alongside all water users in our community is also key:

  • families using good quality water to drink and bath
  • smart use of water in light industrial and manufacturing
  • our farmers and ranchers
  • recreational business and users

Multiple industries are key to our community, skiing, rafting world class fishing as well as ranching and farming, a balance of sustainable recreation is as necessary as good stewardship of water in irrigation. As we grow and move towards the future, all new and existing industries must continue to be good stewards of our water, from construction to light manufacturing.

 

  

LESLIE ROBINSON, DEMOCRAT
Garfield County Commissioner - District 3 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?   

In the 1970’s when I first moved to the Roaring Fork area, settling in Rifle, we had enormous snow years. Each spring, municipalities along the Colorado River struggled to protect water intakes because of spring flooding. Those days seem to be long gone with this persistent drought.

County commissioners have a lot of say over water usage and protection. First, the commissioners approve any ballot measure that will go before the voters in the county. So the Colorado River District had to get authorization from the Garfield County Commissioners to get their tax measure on the ballot. That’s a lot of power in the hands of commissioners who have denied to recognize climate change.

Second, the Garfield County commissioners have been very supportive of the oil and gas industry to the point of fighting new proposed state regulatory standards that would protect health, safety and the environment. In fact, they sued and lost a case against the Air Quality Control Commissioner over approving new protective regulations. I am quite the opposite in my views than the current commissioners and believe protecting our water is paramount.

In drilling and fracking the almost 11,500 O&G wells in Garfield County, the industry may have used over 60 trillion gallons of water that can never be reused again. That’s equivalent to up to five Ruedi Reservoirs. We can’t afford wasting water like that, especially if it’s lost forever because of contamination.        

As county commissioner I would fight for better protections for our clean air and water.

 

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? 

I support the Colorado River District’s tax issues 7a which will be the first step in helping preserve our water rights on the Western Slope. Very disturbing is the recent purchases of senior water rights in the Mesa County area by hedge funders, who are speculating on the price and quantity of water for future users. As county commissioner, I would fight hard against this practice. First it dries up our agricultural lands and second, it jeopardizes our water supply.

These water grab means if Colorado cannot meet its Colorado River Pack water allocations, water will be taken from junior rights ranchers and recreation, which will dry up more land and watersheds.

Garfield County also needs to be a better steward of our natural resources. The current commissioners do not believe in Climate Change, where I believe it is happening NOW. If I were commissioner presently, I would partner with the City of Glenwood Springs and federal agencies to implement protections of the watersheds impacted by the Grizzly Creek Fire.

Recreation on the water is important for our tourism and local uses such as fishing and rafting. Downstream users definitely rely on the water releases from Ruedi Reservoir to keep water levels up. As county commissioner, I would direct that Garfield County buy any water rights that come up for sale to assure consistent water flow and availability.

Right now the current commissioners only concentrate on O&G issues on public land. I would instead direct Garfield County to work with federal agencies to work on multi-uses on public land emphasizing non-industrial uses.

 

 

MIKE SAMSON, REPUBLICAN
Garfield County Commissioner - District 3 Candidate

 Responses forthcoming! Check back soon.

 

After several attempts to contact candidates via email and Facebook over a two week period, we did not receive comments from the following candidate for Garfield County Commissioner: Brian Bark (District 2)

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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

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