Bob Wiley: Support of Referendum A

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It is very disappointing, disturbing, disconcerting, disgusting, disagreeable, discomforting, displeasing, distressing, discouraging and disastrous the attitude of many politicians, public figures and others in Colorado regarding "Referendum A." The misconceptions that are being spread by those against it are appalling.

Referendum A is strictly a water project financing movement, a start, even though a relatively meager one -- but, at least, a start. It is blamed for not specifying particular projects. There are somewhere between 50 and 100 various water projects in the wings now. To list them all would be mind-boggling at this point. To pick out one or two would cause real dissention because they were not yours or mine.

After passage -- then the project or projects would be listed and considered.

Referendum A is criticized for lack of strong mitigation language. Mitigation is very tricky; one size does not fit all. It must be site-specific and tailored to the project, but mitigation is addressed in the referendum and we have very good water laws to enforce it.

It is said that this would only give the big cities on the Front Range money to come after more Western Slope, Arkansas or San Luis Valley water. They have that money now and have been buying up that water now and are already after more. They do not need this referendum to finance their purchases.

It would, however, give smaller entities, towns, ditch companies or small water districts a chance to separately or cooperatively finance structures or storage or water purchases that they cannot obtain financing for now.

The Colorado Water Conservation Board would check out the submitted projects and pass on to the governor the most deserving. This is a board of nine men and women from the different water basins within the state: five of them from the Western Slope, one out of the San Luis Valley and the other three from the Eastern Slope, north to south. They are water-knowledgeable people. What could be more fair? We need to be more trusting.

Colorado is losing several hundred thousand acre-feet of water down the Colorado River every year.

Nothing is being done about it. Neither slope can save it, but together, acting as a state through acts like Referendum A, they can begin to build high mountain storage, provide more recreation spots on the Western Slope and make water available to the whole state to augment existing use, fill in for shortages, keep the cities from buying agriculture water, and put to use millions of acre-feet of water worth such a huge amount of money it makes $2 billion look like chicken feed.

Are we going to let short-sighted people, some greedy people, badly misinformed people, politics and just plain ignoring the problem and its solution keep us from saving Colorado water for Colorado's use and prevent the forced drying up of irrigated agriculture in this valley and other valleys within Colorado? I hope and pray not. If we fail to pass Referendum A, all of us in irrigated farming and ranching may as well hang a sign on our gate saying, "water available here, come and get it before it's gone."

And it will be shortly.

Bob Wiley

Pueblo County Farm Bureau

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