DENVER, CO – House Speaker Julie McCluskie and Senate President Steve Fenberg today made legislative appointments to the Colorado River Drought Task Force. The appointments were made pursuant to SB23-295, a new law which establishes a special task force to identify steps the state can take to protect the Colorado River and all who rely on its water.
“The Colorado River speaks to the very spirit of our Colorado way of life, and I hope the work of this task force helps protect it for generations to come,” said Speaker Julie McCluskie, D-Dillon. “The Colorado River Drought Task Force is a vital step forward toward finding innovative and bold solutions to combat drier, hotter climates that jeopardize our freshwater lifeline and all those who depend on it. The leaders I selected for the task force are committed to a collaborative process that brings every voice to the table and uplifts the needs of Coloradans from around the state. This is the first step in a thorough process to preserve Colorado’s water future.”
“Coloradans depend on clean, reliable water to power our economy and our outdoor way of life, and protecting the Colorado River is a key step towards securing the future of our water supply,” said President Fenberg, D-Boulder. “This Task Force will address the challenges facing our water supply head-on, and will help put Colorado on a path to a sustainable water future by finding innovative solutions to safeguard Colorado’s water. I am excited to watch this team work together to protect our most precious resource and ensure clean, accessible water for all.”
Speaker Julie McCluskie’s legislative appointments to the Colorado River Drought Task Force:
Kathy Chandler-Henry, Eagle County Commissioner, to serve as a representative of a local government located within the boundaries of the Colorado River Water Conservation District that provides water for municipal purposes. Kathy Chandler-Henry, a Western Slope native, is Chair of the Eagle County Commissioners. In addition to her role as County Commissioner, she is President of the Colorado River Water Conservation District Board of Directors, Chair of the Ruedi Water and Power Authority as well as the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments Water Quality and Quantity Committee (QQ). She previously served as President of the Eagle River Watershed Council Board of Directors.
Mike Camblin, Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, to serve as a representative of a statewide agricultural organization that is the owner of water rights. Mike Camblin lives in Maybell Colorado where he and his family run Camblin Livestock, a 4th generation cattle ranch in northwest Colorado. He serves on the Board of Directors as a Northwestern Quarter Representative for the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association.
Alexandra Davis, Aurora Water, to serve as a representative of a front range municipal water provider that diverts water from the Colorado River. Alex Davis is the Assistant General Manager of Water Supply and Demand at Aurora Water. She has experience in the public and NGO sector, working for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the Department of Natural Resources as the Director of Colorado Interbasin Compact Committee, and in the Colorado Attorney General’s office.
Daris Jutten, Uncompahgre Valley Water Users Association, to serve as an agricultural producer that owns water rights within the boundaries of the Colorado River Water Conservation District. Daris Jutten is the Chair of the Uncompahgre Valley Water Users Association Board of Directors and head of the Lazy K Bar Land and Cattle Co., a 5th generation ranching operation in Montrose and Ouray Counties.
Aaron Citron, The Nature Conservancy, to serve as a representative of a statewide environmental nonprofit organization with expertise in water rights and Colorado River interstate governance. Aaron Citron is the Associate Director of External Affairs for The Nature Conservancy in Colorado. He leads the Conservancy’s state legislative and government relations efforts as well as the Colorado chapter’s engagement on Colorado River water issues.
President Steve Fenberg’s legislative appointments to the Colorado River Drought Task Force:
Melissa Youssef, City of Durango, to serve as the representative of a local government located within the boundaries of the southwestern water conservation district that provides water for municipal purposes. Youssef has served on the Durango City Council since 2017. Before she was elected, Youssef founded and served as a CEO of a successful Durango based company, as well as the City of Durango Parks and Recreation Advisory Board and the Trails 2000 board.
Orla Bannan, Western Resource Advocates, to serve as the representative of a statewide environmental nonprofit organization with expertise in water rights and Colorado River Interstate Governance. Bannan is Western Resource Advocates’ Healthy Rivers Strategic Engagement Manager. She helps develop and advocate for policy programs that protect and improve western rivers and works to address water scarcity issues by partnering with regional water boards and emerging leaders in local communities.
By December of 2023, after an extensive stakeholding process open to public comment, the task force must make policy recommendations to the General Assembly for demand reduction projects that proactively address the impact of droughts on the Colorado River and its tributaries and:
Avoid disproportionate economic and environmental impacts to any one region of the state,
Ensure that any program related to the acquisition of agricultural water rights is voluntary, temporary, and compensated,
Assure meaningful collaboration among the Colorado River District, Southwestern Water Conservation District, and the State of Colorado in the design and implementation of drought security programs, and
Evaluate sources of revenue for the acquisition of program water.
A sub-task force consisting of representatives from the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, and the Department of Natural Resources would also be established to provide policy recommendations to the General Assembly to address tribal needs. These recommendations would consider the unique nature of tribal water rights and tribal water use.
The goal of the Colorado River Drought Task Force is to convene experts and relevant stakeholders to provide effective solutions to the General Assembly so our state can protect the Colorado River and its tributaries.