Times have changed since 2003, when voters rejected by a 2-1 margin a referendum to allow the Colorado Water Conservation Board to borrow $2 billion for public and private water projects, a consultant said Friday in Durango.
Polls today show the public is concerned about specific water issues and that water leadership is highly interested in seeing that Colorado has an adequate supply of water, Floyd Ciruli told an audience of 120 at the 30th annual water seminar sponsored by the Southwestern Colorado Water Conservation District.
Ciruli, the principal of Ciruli Associates, a Denver polling and consulting firm on public policy, was the keynote speaker.
Colorado continues to grow, with an additional 4 to 5 million residents expected by 2050, Ciruli said.
If all identified water projects are completed, there still will be a gap between demand and supply of 190,000 acre-feet, he said.
The gap could be as much as 630,000 acre-feet if projects fall through, he said.
Projects are moving ahead, but the solution to satisfying demand will be a combination of conservation, storage, reuse and mostly new supplies, he said.
People are saying that its time for implementation, Ciruli said. Its time to get moving.
Ciruli cited a 2011 report by the Inter-Basin Compact Committee to the effect that a status quo approach wont work.
Water storage, preserving agriculture and making sure Colorado water isnt appropriated by other states are important to Colorado residents, Ciruli said.
Theres worry about out-of-state interests, Ciruli said. Polls show that residents want us to secure our water, to stay ahead of the problem.
Before turning to the topic of the day, Ciruli gave his assessment of the November presidential election. Colorado has swung from being a backwater to a battleground in the presidential campaign, he said.
Colorado is now in play, Ciruli said. We could be a pivotal state, along with Nevada and New Mexico, because of the number of unaffiliated voters.
Ciruli thinks Mitt Romney has the Republican nomination sewn up and that the contest with President Barack Obama will be as close as 2 percentage points.
He didnt predict a winner.